New DG in a state of grace
Perhaps the worst-kept secret in government circles: news on St Patrick’s Day that Dr David Russell-Weisz will take over as Director General of Health in August having overseen the opening of Fiona Stanley Hospital as its commissioning CEO. The Health Minister was his usual chipper self at the media conference confirming the appointment. “Dr Russell-Weisz will preside over a largely reconstructed health system. As well as Fiona Stanley, we have new hospitals in Albany, Busselton and Kalgoorlie-Boulder and will soon open hospitals at Midland and Karratha as well as the Perth Children’s Hospital,” Dr Hames omitted to mention the HDWA searched for two years but were unable to find anyone suitable outside WA. The Serco contract at FSH may gain the new DG’s early attention.
Great when IT works …
Many doctors would carry a Merlin dongle on their keyring, to communicate at 425 MHz radiofrequency with their home roller-door. Merlin is also big on medical device communication, including its Merlin@home RF remote monitoring (model EX1150) used by USA-based St Jude Medical to keep track of patients with a range of implantable defibrillators and pacemakers by communicating via a bedside device at 402-405 MHz. Data is transmitted securely online (Wireless USB Adaptor available) to Merlin.net Patient Care Network, where the patient’s clinician can log on and view. We received a TGA-St Jude hazard warning saying a glitch in the Merlin software (updated version 8 released in January and downloaded into model EX1150 without patient intervention) was probably causing an unintended software reset which led devices to enter back-up mode and return to default. Although no one was at risk, patients may be inconvenienced by vibratory or audible alerts, clinicians by emailed alerts – some implanted devices might need replacing. The joys of technology advances.
Pharmacy audit controversy
The RACGP and the Consumers Health Forum based in Canberra have called for a full inquiry into the findings from the audit of the $15b agreement between the Federal Health Department and the Pharmacy Guild. The CHF is calling for a full and public inquiry into what it says is widespread and significant failures of administration, which is wasting taxpayer money. It cites the Australian National Audit Office’s investigation into the administration of the 5CPA, which found “persistent shortcomings”, including the unapproved transfer of $127m, and reallocation of $5.8m for a Guild-run program, without ministerial approval. The system, it says, hasn’t been evaluated in 25 years and it’s time it was. The 5CPA has been extended for another year, but it looks like Health Minister Sussan Ley will move to close loopholes and have widespread consultation next time round.