The Health News – 19 February 2014

Overview

  • Fijian health authorities are being asked to provide more information on a potential outbreak of dengue fever.
  • Western Australia’s former director of general health Kim Snowball has rejected criticism of the state health department regarding planning for the Fiona Stanley hospital.
  • In NSW, services at Queanbeyan Hospital will resume as normal after the resolution of a wage dispute between doctors at the hospital and NSW Health.
  • In Western Australia, the government has flipped on their previous announcement that they would cut funding to women’s shelters in the north of the state.

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Reports of dengue fever epidemic in Fiji – no author listed
Fijian health authorities are being asked to provide more information on a potential outbreak of dengue fever. Stories of an epidemic have been gaining momentum on social media, but the country’s ministry of health is yet to issue an official statement. Fiji’s media apparently cannot report on the outbreak until the minister of health has commented, but the minister and Secretary of health have so far not answered requests for more information. Dr Yvan Souares, director of the public health division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, says Fijian officials have been in contact with the SPC about suspected dengue cases. Dr Souares said “We’re talking about 4500 cases since the beginning of December 2013. We have rain and the temperatures are quite high, so mosquitos are provided with the perfect opportunities to spread.”

Former health boss hits back at criticism of department over hospital project – no author listed
Western Australia’s former director of general health Kim Snowball has rejected criticism of the state health department regarding planning for the Fiona Stanley hospital. Yesterday in parliament treasurer Troy Buswell said there were many oversights in planning of IT and clinical services for the hospital, echoing the earlier sentiments of under-treasurer Tim Marney. But Mr Snowball believes this is not the case, and said “They were involved directly in the contract development and contract management process so to then claim years later that you only had two weeks to consider it, I just find that unacceptable, that’s not the case. (These comments) reflected on some very senior managers in health who have delivered for the state new infrastructure in Fiona Stanley Hospital; on time, on budget, one of the biggest, in fact the biggest health infrastructure project for health ever.”

Senior doctors pay dispute ends at Queanbeyan Hospital – no author listed
In NSW, services at Queanbeyan Hospital will resume as normal after the resolution of a wage dispute between doctors at the hospital and NSW Health. Three doctors faced a 30% pay cut due to no longer qualifying as rural doctors, as they now lived near Canberra. But NSW Health has agreed to continue paying the doctors rural wages until 2016. Dr Paul Mara from the Rural Doctors Association said “We think it will return to normal as soon as possible and we believe that with the level of goodwill that will come into the discussions that services should continue to evolve as the local health district prepares its service plan. I think the important thing is that now this dispute for all intents and purposes is resolved and we just move on. I think it’s very important that they are able to provide their services.” NSW Health have said rural doctors association contracts will not be offered in future reappoinments after final contracts expire in 2016.

Funding for women’s shelters in the north reinstated after backflip – no author listed
In Western Australia, the government has flipped on their previous announcement that they would cut funding to women’s shelters in the north of the state. Last yesar the department for child protection and Families told four Aboriginal-run shelters that 40% of their yearly budget would be cut. Managers of the shelters lobbied hard against the cuts saying lives would be put at risk.
The health department’s director-general kept the view the shelters were “grossly under-utilised” and the cut funds would be used for busier facilities in Perth. But Minister Helen Morton flew to Fitzroy on Friday, and afterwards reversed the department’s decision and has reinstated funding for the shelters for the interim. The minister said in a statement “We have agreed to extend the current contracts between the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and these three refuges, as well as Roebourne. Funding for the refuges will be maintained at current levels whilst negotiations continue around future models of service. We will work in partnership to examine how together we can address the significant impact of violence in these communities.”

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