The Health News – 25 May 2017

Overview:

• AMA Tasmania’s Chris Middleton said Time and again since the beginning of 2016 the RHH clinicians have raised highly credible warnings regarding an impending bed crisis. The Royal Hobart Hospital  is able to discharge patients home but not to wards when admission is required because of the “bed block”, placing pressure on the system at the other end of the day. As recently as March, the average number of patients being treated in the emergency department at 5:00pm was 54, which represents 200 per cent capacity.

• Lara Gidding’s (Labor Member for Franklin) speech in the Tasmanian House of Assembly kicked off the debate over the Voluntary Assisted Dying bill co-sponsored by Ms Giddings and Greens leader Cassy O’Connor, which would allow people to voluntarily end their lives using a lethal drug. “The fact is that these patients are suffering intolerable pain that cannot be relieved, and their families are being left with the stressful memories of their loved one’s dying experience,” Ms Giddings said.

• Tasmania’s Health Minister Michael Ferguson said children who had seizures would be the first to be given the opportunity to access the scheme for medical cannabis. The Australian Medical Association’s Tasmanian president, Stuart Day, said he only supported medicinal cannabis that was prescribed through doctors.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  25th of May 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-24/how-sick-is-the-royal-hobart-hospital/8555030

Thursday’s Tasmanian budget is expected to include money for an extra 30 hospital beds to help address pressures in the public health system.

Health is one of the budget’s big ticket items and has been the subject of heavy lobbying by hospital staff worried about a system in crisis.

One of the main concerns has been the performance of the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) – the state’s main tertiary facility.

But just how sick is the Royal?

Doctors and nurses argue it is sicker than the Government has been willing to admit.

“Time and again since the beginning of 2016 the RHH clinicians [nursing and medical] have raised highly credible warnings regarding an impending bed crisis, a situation in which we now find ourselves,” AMA Tasmania’s Chris Middleton said.

“This advice was provided at multiple levels within the THS [Tasmanian Health Service] right through to and above the level of the CEO.

“That no effective action was taken when there was time is highly regrettable.

“The system needs to be held to account. An independent inquiry is required.”

The RHH is able to discharge patients home but not to wards when admission is required because of the “bed block”, placing pressure on the system at the other end of the day.

As recently as March, the average number of patients being treated in the emergency department at 5:00pm was 54, which represents 200 per cent capacity.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s Neroli Ellis said the department was well over capacity.

Doctors said the data showed the RHH was failing a key indicator of quality and safety.

The Government has been contacted for comment.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-24/euthanasia-debate-begins-in-bid-to-legalise-assisted-suicide/8554352

A Tasmanian politician has urged her colleagues to end the “suffering and pain” of terminally ill people being driven to “desperate suicide”, as the latest bid to change the laws to allow voluntary assisted dying is debated in Parliament.

Lara Giddings, the Labor Member for Franklin, said within her wider family, people had “come home to find a loved one dead” and urged her colleagues to show compassion.

Ms Giddings’ speech in the Tasmanian House of Assembly kicked off the debate over the Voluntary Assisted Dying bill co-sponsored by Ms Giddings and Greens leader Cassy O’Connor, which would allow people to voluntarily end their lives using a lethal drug.

“The fact is that these patients are suffering intolerable pain that cannot be relieved, and their families are being left with the stressful memories of their loved one’s dying experience,” Ms Giddings said.

“Yet the law as it is gives them no choice to end their suffering and pain.

“This bill is about the patients, and there are hundreds of stories of people taking their own life because they could not bear the pain and suffering anymore.”

Under the bill, to qualify to gain access to the drug you must be a Tasmanian adult who is judged competent to make the decision and have an eligible medical condition.

Access would also require diagnosis by a specialist and must be signed off by two independent doctors.

The campaign to legalise voluntary euthanasia began in the 1990s, after Tasmanian supporters formed the advocacy group Dying with Dignity in 1992, with the first bid to introduce voluntary euthanasia legislation rejected by the Tasmanian Parliament a few years later.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-23/medicinal-cannabis-cost-fears-tasmanian-scheme/8552108

As the Tasmanian Government prepares to spend almost $4 million on a controlled access scheme for medicinal cannabis, some people who already use the drug have raised concerns about the scheme’s effectiveness.

The tightly-controlled regulation will mean some Tasmanian patients with severe epilepsy will be able to obtain medicinal cannabis from hospital pharmacies, but there are concerns it will not be affordable for those who need it.

Tasmania’s Health Minister Michael Ferguson said children who had seizures would be the first to be given the opportunity to access the scheme.

“Our first focus under the controlled access scheme is young children and young Tasmanians with drug-resistant epilepsy,” he said.

“We don’t know at the moment how many children are likely to be prescribed with a medical cannabis product but we want it to be available to those who need it.”

The Australian Medical Association’s Tasmanian president, Stuart Day, said he only supported medicinal cannabis that was prescribed through doctors.

According to the federal Health Department, medical cannabis cannot be included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as it was still an unregistered medicine.