The Health News – 25 May 2015

Health News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 25th May 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

A Government incentive scheme to try to lure more doctors to the bush is falling short of the mark, with too much money going towards large regional centres and not enough to smaller towns, the Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash says.

Rural and remote towns with fewer than 50,000 people will benefit from $50 million being diverted from the General Practice Rural Incentive Payment Scheme, which originally targeted larger coastal cities like Cairns and Townsville, according to Senator Nash.
Doctors in the rural and remote areas will receive increased subsidy payments from July this year.
Senator Nash said the revamped program would help reduce the gap between rural Australia and the cities.
“There’s an unfair distribution of the resources,” she said.
“We’re currently seeing funding go to doctors who have chosen to practice in large regional centres, so towns over 50,000 population.
“So doctors moving to those areas will no longer be able to receive the incentive payments.”
She said the change would help attract doctors to smaller centres that needed them.
“We were having the same payments going to doctors in large towns as to doctors in the smaller towns. [This will get] the right doctors, with the right skills to the right places.”
But the retargeted money does not include a target for bolstering health services in Indigenous communities, but she wanted to see more Aboriginal health workers in place.
She said that would be a focus for future policy development.
Ms Nash made the announcement ahead of attending the 13th national remote health conference in Darwin on Sunday.

Up to 30 health, aged care and community organisations have registered their interest in the Repatriation General Hospital site at Daw Park in Adelaide, the State Government says.

Services will be shifted to other hospitals over the next two years as part of the Government’s Transforming Health Plan leaving the current site vacant.
The relocation of services has been fiercely opposed by veterans who use the hospital.
A group of veterans have been camped out the front of Parliament House since early April, protesting the shift of services.

Of the 30 registrations of interest received, eight were from the health sector, eight from community and education providers and four from aged-care providers.
A consortium which collaborates across the three sectors has also registered interest.
A decision on the future of the current site is expected in the first half of next year, but the Government has previously ruled out any sort of commercial or residential development.
Health Minister Jack Snelling said any future use of the site would need to keep with the remaining on-site services and historical buildings.

Acute clinical services currently housed at the Repatriation General Hospital are expected to transition to alternative hospital sites in 2017-18.
The chapel, museum and remembrance garden will remain on the site and be excluded from any sale.
Mr Snelling said formal expressions of interest will be called in the coming months.

A new kind of brain implant that can sense a patient’s intent to move a robotic arm is being hailed as a breakthrough in harnessing mind power to help paralysed people gain more independence.

A study in the journal Science has reported on the technology, which uses electrodes implanted in the brain to transmit signals to a computer and translate those signals into instructions for a robotic arm.
For people like Erik Sorto, who was left paralysed from the neck down when he was shot in the back more than a decade ago, it means he is finally able to drink a beverage by himself.

The new brain implant means the 34-year-old Californian can now make a hand-shaking gesture, grab a cup to drink from and even play the rock, paper, scissors game with his robotic arm.
The father-of-two said he had begun by identifying what task he wanted to perform.
“And then I start thinking about the robotic arm, I close my eyes, and I start imagining the robotic arm and what I want it to do,” he said.
In the last decade, several people outfitted with brain implants have used their minds to steer prosthetic limbs, but Mr Sorto has become the first person to have a neural prosthetic device implanted in a region of the brain where intentions are made.

California Institute of Technology neuroscientist Richard Andersen led the study.

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