Inquiry slams AHPRA
AHPRA has been getting a pasting in the Victorian Legislative Council Inquiry into its performance. The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists has wading in claiming AHPRA has not successfully implemented a national scheme to eliminate waste and duplication, certainly not low-cost and low-impact. It claims no enhanced service delivery, patient safety or national administrative efficiency. It says resolution of state-based issues have become exceedingly difficult and doctors are suffocating in red tape; AHPRA is bureaucratically bloated – offices in every capital city and 700 staff (costing $53m) to manage input from 475 board members; reports to nine health ministers across the nation so the buck stops nowhere; received $122m and overspent this by $6m. ASO wants a return to previous state and territory boards.

Broker Breakdown
As we went to press, paediatrician Flemming Nielsen and his ex-Citigroup broker Rob Catena in a joint trial were fighting insider trading charges laid by ASIC in April 2011, for share transactions back in 2006. Of particular interest to doctors with self-managed superannuation funds was evidence by Bell Potter investment adviser Rocco Tassone, reported in The West Australian. He said brokers might not be thinking what you are thinking when they use “rumours” and “sources” to convince their clients to buy and sell, and thereby generate a brokerage fee. Both Mr Catena and another ex-Citigroup broker Mr Hebbard, also facing insider trader charges, were banned in February 2009 by ASIC from providing financial services for five years.

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What’s in a press release
National Health Peformance Authority figures on GP access came out for the first time recently. Health consumers were saying they waited too long for GP appointments (13% nationally). Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said Medicare Locals were important because they gathered the info. The AMA said it illustrated why we need more GPs. And NHPA got to report on the performance of one aspect of healthcare for the Council of Australian Governments. Fortunately, in 2010–11, between 86% to 96% of health consumers felt their GP always or often showed respect for what they had to say, and between 80% to 94% felt their GP always or often spent enough time with them. See www.nhpa.gov.au for more.

Freedom for some
After a month where there has been much ink spilled on Senator Conroy’s controversial proposed media regulation, it seems the federal government is encouraging the not-for-profit sector to speak out if it sees injustice or incompetence. It is introducing legislation to ban gag clauses in federal government contracts with the not-for-profit sector, so it can “advocate freely in the interests of the community”. The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, said it was important for the NFP sector to have an independent voice, and she urged state government to introduce similar legislation. But politics is never far away from a good idea. She slammed Queensland’s “Draconian” cuts to health and education and then accused Campbell Newman’s government of silencing its critics.2.

GP Representation
Fremantle GP Hilary Fine was elected to the board of Fremantle Local recently, from candidates amongst whom pharmacy was strongly represented. She said GPs are grappling with more complexity and medicolegal concerns while chasing work-life balance. Add decreasing profits and compliance with changes and she is not surprised involvement in GP representative groups is dwindling or is left to die-hards. Pharmacists, on the other hand, jump at the opportunity to be part of the future and of primary care turf. She said Medicare Locals offer an opportunity to develop local health care that fragmented general practice should grasp. Meanwhile, her East Fremantle Medical Centre, which recently achieved Super Clinic status, threw an event at Fremantle warehouse PS Art Space, is supporting Warlukurlangu Aboriginal artists whose designs are incorporated into fashion..

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