• Three doctors from the Kincraig Medical Clinic say they have been blocked from attending public patients at Naracoorte Hospital in South Australia’s south-east following an ongoing contract dispute with the State Government.
• Victoria’s Health Department has been accused of covering up the health risks associated with the Hazelwood mine fire in 2014 by Morwell residents. A Melbourne University report found it was plausible to link the fire with a higher death rate.
• Aquaria, a new web resource that helps researchers gain insight into protein structure and function, has achieved Merit status at the national iAward finals (Research and Development category).
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 3rd September 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
Doctors say they have been blocked from attending public patients at Naracoorte Hospital in South Australia’s south-east following an ongoing contract dispute with the State Government.
Three doctors who would normally be on call from an adjacent private practice, the Kincraig Medical Clinic (KMC), said they had their “privileges” to work at the hospital withdrawn and had instead been replaced with a single locum, who was on call for “72 hours” at a time.
The doctors said that instead of three doctors being collectively paid $545 a day to be on call for hospital emergencies, the Government was advertising for locum positions and offering them $3,600 each a day.
Country Health SA acting chief executive officer Rebecca Graham said the cost of the employed locum averaged $1,600 a day.
She said doctors from KMC could continue to access the hospital to treat “private patients”.
But Doctor Jeff Taylor from KMC said the locum had replaced a doctor, an obstetrics doctor and an anaesthetic doctor on call from his clinic.
“So if you come in after having a major crash, or a heart attack, you’re not going to get any anaesthetic support at Naracoorte Hospital, which is terrible,” he said.
He said the sub-regional hospital was the “busiest in the state”, with 180 births a year and four surgical procedures being undertaken each week.
“At the moment we’ve got five women that are due to deliver in Naracoorte this week, some of whom actually come from Bordertown,” Dr Taylor said.
“The arrangements that are being put in place by Country Health SA mean they’ll now have a 400-kilometre round trip in order to receive obstetric care.”
Many sub-regional hospitals rely on doctors at private clinics to be on call for emergency situations and are paid by SA Health.
The Australian Medial Association earlier this year struck a three-year Standard Rural GP agreement with Country Health SA (SA Health’s regional division) after a protracted dispute.
It included up to eight extra rural GP training positions, a new minimum payment for GPs left out of pocket for attending to road accident patients, and a 3 per cent increase when doctors provided certain emergency and other after-hours services.
At the time, however, the Rural Doctors Association of South Australia said doctors felt “blackmailed” into accepting the agreement and were given an “ultimatum” to accept it or stop working in the hospitals.
Dr Taylor said many doctors in country SA signed the agreement because they were from overseas.
Country Health SA said it was disappointed the Naracoorte doctors continued to reject the standard contract it said nearly 100 per cent of rural doctors across the state had committed to.
KMC said it recruited the services of a lobbyist to approach SA Health Minister Jack Snelling but those efforts were unsuccessful.
Victoria’s Health Department has been accused of covering up the health risks associated with the Hazelwood mine fire by Morwell residents.
The inquiry into the fire reopened on Tuesday, and was told health officials asked for the rewording of a Melbourne University report, which found it was plausible to link the fire with a higher death rate.
The coal mine fire burnt for 45 days last year, choking the nearby town of Morwell with thick, foul-smelling smoke and prompting authorities to urge vulnerable people to relocate.
The department had asked the university to review data on deaths in the Latrobe Valley, as well as the work of Professor Adrian Barnett, who last year published analysis showing there was a high probability 11 deaths in the Latrobe Valley had been caused by the fire.
In emails shown to the inquiry, the department made recommendations on the wording and content of the review to the university’s Doctor Louisa Flander before it was published.
Aquaria, a new web resource that helps researchers gain insight into protein structure and function, has achieved Merit status at the national iAward finals (Research and Development category).
Aquaria had previously won first prize in its category in the 2015 NSW iAwards, held in July, and it won the Best Paper Award at the 5th International Symposium on Biological Data Visualization (Dublin, Ireland, July 2015).
Aquaria was developed by a cross-institute team led by Dr Seán O’Donoghue. It is the result of extensive collaborative work between the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and CSIRO, as well as international partners in Munich, Germany. The group developed Aquaria to simplify discovery and insight from protein structures.
The iAwards were established in 1984. They honour companies at the cutting edge of technology innovation and recognise the achievements of home-grown Australian innovators.
There were 12 finalists in the national 2015 iAwards Research and Development category. The overall category winner was Scancam, a world-first smart solution to fuel theft. In addition to
Aquaria, a Merit was awarded to the PEERS tool, which helps health professionals to detect social problems in children.
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