Cash for [clinical] comment

UWA Vice-Chancellor Prof Alan Robson has been pretty forthcoming with the cheque book of late. Keen to raise UWA’s profile, he’s forked out $10,000 to UWA academics who managed to get published in international magazines Nature and Science. Five UWA staffers took the bait and have since been published – very profitably! – including WAIMR’s Prof Lyle Palmer, Prof Peter Leedman, and Dr Keith Giles. Next time you hear the unis jump up and down about the scarcity of government funding, tell them to write a paper.

Shrinking inner circle

Does it come as a surprise that the Executive Council of the Federal AMA has appointed Mr Francis Sullivan as the new Secretary General of the Federal AMA? Francis has been CEO of Catholic Health Australia for 14 years. The grapevine suggests Francis is a more than capable fit for the position but can it be good for a powerful member-based lobby group like the AMA to have such a concentration of one religious denomination in its inner circle?

Symbion armwrestle

The takeover for Symbion Health Care continues to twist and turn. In late November, the ‘plan B’ offer by Healthscope came unstuck when a favourable ruling from the Tax Office over tax relief was not forthcoming. This left Primary Health Care’s cash offer of $4.10/share as the only bid on the table (which the Symbion board resolutely rejects as it “undervalues the company”). Primary has a 20% stake in Symbion, while Healthscope picked up 10% after the ATO ruling. However, Symbion chief Robert Cooke has said, “there was no need for the business to be sold as it was travelling well.” Let’s call it a draw, boys.

Bleeding red ink

Biotech C3 continues to bleed red ink. The company posted an annual loss of $15m and claimed sales of only $900k. At the AGM, chairman Dalton Gooding said the proposed merger with fellow Perth biotech Visiomed would strengthen the commercial focus of the company.The merger is expected to be completed in March, requiring approval from shareholders, courts, and ASIC. At least Dalton has experience in delivering bad news and coping with questions from his time presiding over the Eagles’ disastrous 2007 campaign.

You’re so vain

Finally, proof that society is vain! Yellow.com.au, the Yellow Pages’ online business directory, logged consumer searches over five years and found West Aussies have developed a love affair with the scalpel. In 2001, there wasn’t a search category for cosmetic surgery, but by 2006, demand was so great that they created one. In 2006, there were 10,622 cosmetic surgery searches in WA alone. Over the same period, searches for personal trainers skyrocketed by 1504%, weight reduction treatments by 911%, and Health & Fitness centres by 441%.

Off the rails

Has rural recruitment fallen off the rails? The HECS Reimbursement Scheme offers young rural and remote doctors the chance to claim back one fifth of their HECS debt for each year of bush service. Less than half of the nearly $6m allocated to the scheme was spent in 2006-07. The other rural ‘incentive’ for medical students is a Bonded Medical place, which has the smell of indentured labour about it.

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