The Health News – 22 January 2014

Overview

  • The senior director of the QLD Health Communicable Diseases Unit, Dr Sonya Bennett, has spoken out against parents in the state failing to vaccinate their children, just days after a severe spike in Measles cases in Western Australia was announced.
  • Also in QLD, The Together Union, one of the state’s foremost trade unions, have said that elective surgery patients at Townsville Hospital are being moved down or removed from waiting lists in order to manipulate the hospital’s treatment statistics.
  • QLD Health are urging Cairns residents to be vigilant in stopping the spread of Dengue fever in the area, with the number of cases reaching 17 in the city.
  • The South Australian Liberals have formed an unlikely alliance with the Greens and Family First to provide volunteer firefighters the same access to cancer compensation as career firefighters.

Health News on HPR.

Vaccination saves lives – by QLD Health staff
The senior director of the QLD Health Communicable Diseases Unit, Dr Sonya Bennett, has spoken out against parents in the state failing to vaccinate their children, just days after a severe spike in Measles cases in Western Australia was announced. Less than 92% of QLD children aged 5 and under are fully immunised, leaving almost 1 in 10 unprotected. Dr Bennet said “Immunisation is one of the most significant medical achievements of the last century; saving millions of lives. We don’t see diseases like diphtheria and polio in our community because of public immunisation programs. If vaccination rates fall we could start to see these diseases return.” Vaccination rates in metropolitan areas of QLD average as high as 97%, however a recent survey of southern suburbs of Brisbane found that in some areas, well below 90% of 5-and-under children are immunised. This has resulted in the trialling of a new initiative to provide in-home vaccinations to disadvantaged families. Dr Bennett also echoed the sentiments of Western Australia’s department of health from earlier this week regarding unimmunised travellers bringing infectious diseases back into the country, explaining the last 2 cases of measles in QLD were contracted by Australian travellers in the Philippines.

Union lists elective surgery worries – no author listed
Also in QLD, The Together Union, one of the state’s foremost trade unions, have said that elective surgery patients at Townsville Hospital are being moved down or removed from waiting lists in order to manipulate the hospital’s treatment statistics. Regional Organiser of the Together Union Billy Colless says that patients who miss surgery appointments are being moved to the back of the queue, and is demoralising for both patients and hospital staff. He said “The problem is they’re sending that letter a week in advance so if you could move your life around in a week to get surgery, that’s great but if you have to work and can’t get off work and don’t get that surgery, you’re deemed to declining the surgery, you’re taken off the list. The story we’re hearing from the actual workers at the hospital who have to deliver the news, that they’re no longer on the lists, is disheartening.” However the staff of Townsville Hospital and Health Service have recently been appointed the autonomy to manage their own procedures by QLD Health, and had recently been praised by the Health Minister for enacting more efficient common-sense practices. Townsville Hospital and Health Service said it is standard practice to remove patients from waiting lists after missing 2 appointments.

Six more cases of dengue fever confirmed in Cairns – no author listed
QLD Health are urging Cairns residents to be vigilant in stopping the spread of Dengue fever in the area, with the number of cases reaching 17 in the city. In a separate outbreak in Port Douglas earlier in the year, 17 people were also infected. Dr Richard Gair, director of Tropical Public Health Services, stresses that being proactive in destroying mosquito breeding sites before the impending wet season is essential, and said “People need to check that on a weekly basis and get rid of them so there’s no breeding sites. The dengue action response team will go out to premises where we have confirmed or suspected cases and will treat people’s homes or workplaces in a radius around people’s homes or workplaces to make sure that any possibly infected mosquitoes are killed.”

Liberals, Greens, Family First link arms in bid for full CFS cancer compensation – no author listed
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-22/liberals2c-greens2c-family-first-alliance-for-cfs-compensation/5213000

And in South Australia, the Liberal party have allied with the Greens and Family First to push for equal compensation for fire-related cancers for volunteer and professional fire fighters. Opposition Leader Steven Marshall says he cannot yet firmly disclose the cost of broadening coverage to all South Australian firefighters, but does not believe the figures provided by the government are accurate. The government said that allowing full coverage for volunteer as well as professional firefighters would cost the state up to $90m a year, but an actuary put the cost at closer to $23m.

However Cr Marshall rejects these costings, and said “We reject that. It’s not consistent with any of the evidence from other jurisdictions around the world. We’re getting our own separate actuarial advice.” There are currently 13,000 volunteers in the state’s Country Fire Service that will be affected by the decision.

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