- Arthritis is a problem normally associated with old age, but thousands of Australian children are also afflicted by the condition and a national shortage of specialist doctors is only making the problem worse.
- A young mother was stuck for 48 hours in an Adelaide emergency department without treatment and “practically bed-bound” after seeking help for mental health issues.
- Nominations for the AMA Excellence in Healthcare Award, AMA Woman in Medicine Award, AMA Women’s Health Award, AMA Men’s Health Award, and AMA Youth Health Award are now open.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 17th March 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Arthritis is a problem normally associated with old age, but thousands of Australian children are also afflicted by the condition and a national shortage of specialist doctors is only making the problem worase.
The disease is now as common as childhood diabetes, yet doctors said there were limited treatment options available.
Most states only had one or two specialists with expertise in juvenile arthritis, while Tasmania and the Northern Territory had none at all.
Doctors aimed to bring the situation to light as part of Arthritis Week, by sharing the experiences of families coping with the disease.
At least 6,000 Australian children suffered from arthritis, for which there is no cure.
Paediatric rheumatologist Professor Devinder Singh-Grewal who specialises in arthritis said the condition mirrored adult arthritis.
“Childhood arthritis is the childhood counterpart of adult arthritis,” Professor Singh-Grewal said.
“It’s an inflammatory disease which is autoimmune in origin, where we get the immune system actually attacking children’s joints.”
Recognition of the scope of the problem was small and Professor Singh-Grewal said very few resources were devoted to it.
He said sufferers faced long delays in getting diagnosed as well as major shortages of treatment and support services.
“In Australia and New Zealand we have about seven-and-a-half full-time paediatric rheumatologists.
“The problem is that based on international best practice and standards, we’d require between 14 and 28 full-time paediatric rheumatologists to do that job properly.”
As part of Arthritis Awareness Week, Arthritis Australia was mounting a campaign to expand public services for juvenile arthritis sufferers as well as more funding to train rheumatologists.
Experts believe increased funding for research provided the only possible chance for a cure to be found.
A young mother was stuck for 48 hours in an Adelaide emergency department without treatment and “practically bed-bound” after seeking help for mental health issues.
Her husband “Michael” [stated that]… she had called a mental health line, seeking advice and assistance.
The operator felt Michael’s wife needed treatment quickly and sent an ambulance to the couple’s rural property, which transported her to the Lyell McEwin Hospital.
“She got to the emergency ward at the Lyell McEwin Hospital where they pretty much stuck her in a cubicle, slapped a detention order on her, which we were originally told was for 24 hours, [but] she’s still under that detention order,” Michael said.
Michael’s wife is now being treated at the mental health ward at Lyell McEwin, where she has shown some improvement.
But Michael said the 48 hours in the emergency ward had been horrific for his wife and their family, who were left quite distraught over the ordeal.
“For somebody that has asked for help and then basically is stuck in what I can describe as a six by four cell, essentially, and not being given any information or any help for that period of time, it was horrible,” Michael said.
As part of the detention order, Michael’s wife had to be monitored by a nurse 24 hours a day, which meant she had no privacy.
She was not allowed to leave the ward, and at first was only allowed to walk around the nurses’ station.
Michael’s wife is now waiting for an opening at Glenside Hospital at Helen Mayo House, which specialises in mental health issues for mothers and children in particular.
As a consequence of the ordeal, Michael said his wife would unlikely phone the mental health line again.
SA Health Minister Jack Snelling said he was continuously frustrated by the amount of time mental health patients were forced to spend in hospital emergency departments.
Mr Snelling said he had set a target for hospitals, which must be met by January 1, 2016, that there would be “no mental health patient waiting for 24 hours” in an emergency department.
The Flinders Medical Centre has introduced a ‘short-stay’ ward for mental health patients so that they can start treatment immediately and also to prevent long stays in the emergency department.
Mr Snelling said that had so far proven successful and would be rolled out at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Nominations for the AMA Excellence in Healthcare Award, AMA Woman in Medicine Award, AMA Women’s Health Award, AMA Men’s Health Award, and AMA Youth Health Award are now open.
The awards will be presented at the AMA National Conference in Brisbane on 29-31 May 2015.
There are many members of the medical community who do extraordinary work and that these awards are a way to recognise their valuable contributions to health and society.
The closing date of nominations is Wednesday 22 April 2015.
Nominations can be emailed to [email protected] or call 02 6270 5400 for more information.
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