The Health News – 24 January 2014

Overview

  • More than 500 Queensland doctors have voted to reject individual work contracts proposed by the State Government.
  • The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says the number of people practicing medicine increased by 11,000 over the four years to 2012 with two-thirds of the new medical staff trained in Australia.
  • In South Australia, the state opposition has promised to fund a permanent dialysis facility on the Indigenous-run APY lands, as the number of patients having to leave the area for dialysis takes a toll on the community.
  • South-West QLD residents will see an increase in the availability of telehealth services this year. South West Hospital and Health Service TeleHealth Coordinator Jodie Turvey has plans to implement telehealth more widely throughout the region.

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Queensland doctors reject individual contracts for State Government work – no author listed
Over 500 doctors in QLD have rejected a state government proposal to enact individual employment contracts. The Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation represents more than 3000 doctors and practitioners, and President Dr Tony Sara, who voted against the proposal in a Brisbane meeting last night, declared he would rather leave the state than accept the proposed conditions. He said
“We have never seen anything like this in Australia. Specialist doctors are already saying if this doesn’t work out, if these contracts go through as it looks like they will, then we will start moving to the private sector. Queensland will have trouble recruiting specialists and we have had a number of doctors say ‘I will die in a ditch before I will sign this contract’.” The proposed arrangements would see those affected lose their protections against dismissal, and could see a pay cut of more than 30%. Dr Sara went on to say “The Queensland Government wishes to put all salaried hospital specialists onto individual contracts. The individual contracts are worse than WorkChoices contracts. There is no protection from arbitrary dismissal, there is no dispute resolution processes, the employer does what they want and they don’t have to discuss or negotiate with their staff whatsoever.” The vote on the proposal came ahead of February’s bi-elections for the state seat of Redcliffe and the federal seat of Griffith, during which time Dr Sara says the Medical Officers Federation will vie to raise awareness of the plight of the health care system, saying
“Campbell Newman, as I perceive it from Sydney, is on the nose already. I saw them on television in the last few days saying how wonderful he was how much he was doing for hospitals and health care – that is clearly is a extremely questionable and suspect statement.”

Doctor numbers increasing despite concerns of shortage – by Sarah Dingle
Recent statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that the nation’s medical workforce is growing despite looming concerns of a doctor shortage. The Institute figures revealed the number of practicing medical staff increased by 11,000 from 2008 to 2012, with over two-thirds of the staff trained in Australia. Teresa Dickson of the institute says there were over 91,000 registered doctors across the nation in 2012, a 16% rise on 2008, including an 8% overall growth in the number of general practitioners. Statistically, rural and regional areas appear to better equipped with GP services than metropolitan areas. Ms Dickinson explained “In remote and very remote areas we have 134 GPs for every 100,000 Australians whereas in major cities that equivalent figure is 108. So in fact remote and very remote Australia is better serviced for GPs but that’s in stark contrast to specialists where in remote and very remote areas there’s only 33 per 100,000 whereas in major cities its 153.” The percentage of females employed as doctors has risen to a historic record of 38%.

Ms Dickinson believes this is congruent with other medical professions seeing an increase in the number of female practitioners, and said “It’s becoming slightly more feminised as a profession, it was up from 35 to 38 per cent and that’s a trend in fact we’re seeing across a lot of the health professions at the moment.”

SA Opposition pledges to fund permanent dialysis facilities on APY Lands – by Caroline Winter

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-24/apy-lands-permanent-dialysis/5216626

In South Australia, the state opposition has promised to fund a permanent dialysis facility on the Indigenous-run APY lands, as the number of patients having to leave the area for dialysis takes a toll on the community. A mobile treatment unit currently operates on the lands, but this does not cater to patients who require frequent dialysis. 25 recent patients have been forced to move to larger towns to receive more intensive treatment, and trips home are rare and difficult to make. South Australian and Indigenous lobby groups have been appealing to the government for more permanent measures for some time, and the opposition has now announced an election promise to build these facilities, using $1.8m in Federal funds. The plan would see 4 permanent dialysis machines placed at a new site in Ernabella, and the move has been welcomed by locals and lobbyists.

More telehealth services for the South West – QLD Health news

http://www.health.qld.gov.au/news/stories/140120-swhhs-telehealth.asp

South-West QLD residents will see an increase in the availability of telehealth services this year. South West Hospital and Health Service TeleHealth Coordinator Jodie Turvey has plans to implement telehealth more widely throughout the region. Ms Turvey says there are many applications where telehealth should be used, particularly for remote facilities. She said “At the moment haematology, cardiology and orthopaedics are the three most common specialties we see treated with telehealth outpatient appointments. In 2013 we saw more uptake of telehealth outpatient services and that trend is expected to increase this year.

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