The Health News Australia November 18 2017

  • The sudden suspension of a country Victorian town’s obstetrics service has sparked a community backlash and further debate about the future of small, rural hospitals. The maternity unit at Cohuna District Hospital, located in the state’s north, has been put on bypass — meaning the hospital is no longer allowed to deliver babies. News of the decision spread quickly and more than two hundred locals gathered for an impromptu rally on Wednesday to express their anger and shock.
  • New technology has been unveiled at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service that will send frozen blood to the front line to save lives. Australians rolling up their sleeves to donate blood could soon be helping to save the life of a soldier on an overseas battlefield thanks to a “life-saving” new technology. Australia is now one of only three countries in the world able to successfully freeze and thaw blood products, a process that significantly increases the shelf life of some blood parts by up to ten years.
  • After a marathon debate that ran all of Thursday and ended at nearly midnight, the bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying has failed to pass the New South Wales’ Upper House by a single vote. With 19 voting in support but 20 against, the result came down to the wire. MPs were given a conscience vote on the legislation, introduced by Nationals MP Trevor Khan, which would allow terminally ill patients over the age of 25  to end their own lives with the help of doctors.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 18th of November 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-17/maternity-ward-no-longer-allowed-to-deliver-babies-in-cohuna/9160378

The sudden suspension of a country Victorian town’s obstetrics service has sparked a community backlash and further debate about the future of small, rural hospitals. It has also highlighted the difficulty facing country health services face when trying to attract and retain specialists. The maternity unit at Cohuna District Hospital, located in the state’s north, has been put on bypass — meaning the hospital is no longer allowed to deliver babies. News of the decision spread quickly and more than two hundred locals gathered for an impromptu rally on Wednesday to express their anger and shock. Many of the protesters were local women due to give birth and worried about not being able to do so at their local hospital, as planned.

The Cohuna closure has restarted a broader debate about the sustainability of rural health services. Rural doctors and the Australian Medical Association were quick to issue a statement which stated that putting Cohuna’s maternity unit on bypass “smells like an attempt to close the unit entirely”.
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Health Minister Jill Hennessy said her primary concern was the safety of the service, especially given the scandal surrounding the deaths of babies at the Bacchus Marsh Hospital, west of Melbourne, over recent years. She added:  “If a board who is responsible for the clinical governance of a health service is saying we don’t believe we can provide that service safely, unless and until we’ve got two GPs that we can have on call, then I’m going to take their advice.”

https://healthtimes.com.au/hub/medical-technology/65/news/aap/frozen-blood-for-defence-force-to-use-in-war-zones/3026/

New technology has been unveiled at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service that will send frozen blood to the front line to save lives. Australians rolling up their sleeves to donate blood could soon be helping to save the life of a soldier on an overseas battlefield thanks to a “life-saving” new technology. Australia is now one of only three countries in the world able to successfully freeze and thaw blood products, a process that significantly increases the shelf life of some blood parts by up to ten years. In the past, transporting life-saving blood to trauma victims in the midst of battle was a race against time, but the new technology will mean medics will have the stores of blood they need on hand to help thousands of Australian military personnel in conflict zones. Defence Personnel Minister Dan Tehan said “It means if there are accidents, or if there are shootings which leads to mass bleeding, in particular, we will be able to use that technology on the spot to save lives. It’s lifesaving for the troops we put on the ground.” Trials are now underway to take the technology to rural and remote communities across Australia.

When not frozen, red blood cells have a shelf life of up to forty two days. Platelets must be used within five days from donation to transfusion – presenting an issue for patients living outside of metropolitan areas. Having seen her fair share of deployments in both humanitarian and combat roles, Surgeon General Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart says the technology has added benefits on top of saving lives.
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The ability to freeze and thaw blood without compromising its use, from a hospital to a field tent in battle, was the result of seven years of work by researchers at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Defence.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-16/nsw-parliament-votes-on-euthanasia-bill/9158384

After a marathon debate that ran all of Thursday and ended at nearly midnight, the bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying has failed to pass the New South Wales’ Upper House by a single vote. With nineteen voting in support but twenty against, the result came down to the wire. Members of Parliament were given a conscience vote on the legislation, introduced by Nationals Member of Parliament Trevor Khan, which would allow terminally ill patients over the age of twenty five to end their own lives with the help of doctors. He said last night he was “obviously disappointed” with the vote but pledged to keep pushing for the legislation.

The conditions in the assisted dying legislation are: Proposed patients must be over the age of twenty five and would be expected to die within twelve months due to their illnesses;  They must be assessed by a psychologist or psychiatrist and have their decision signed off on by two medical practitioners, including a specialist;  Close relatives can challenge patient eligibility in the Supreme Court.

Victoria’s Parliament looks likely to pass their own voluntary assisted dying  legislation soon, with the Lower House voting in favour and the Upper House just a handful of votes away from enacting the landmark legislation.

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