Old Docs Rebel

The Australian Senior Active Doctors Association (ASADA) refuses to be scrap-heaped by new national registration. They want dignity and respect despite wings clipped by Limited Registration Public Interest Occasional Practice (LRPIOP). They say LRPIOPs are rarely a risk, can contribute within safeguards, can mentor younger docs, and need to step down to retirement. ASADA president Dr Frank Johnson has written to MBA Chair Dr Joanna Flynn to ask is if the decision to terminate LRPIOP is to be reviewed, and what role does the MBA see for LRPIOPs in Australian healthcare. July 1, 2013, is D-Day.

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Pharmas Paying Docs

Doctors and pharmacists are on notice from the ACCC that Medicines Australia must improve disclosure of payments to individual healthcare professionals by early 2015.  Edition 17 of Medicines Australia’s Code of Conduct will be the interim standard for two years. The ACCC says it’s about community confidence in the integrity of payments to healthcare professionals. See www.accc.gov.au/AuthorisationsRegister..

State Health Drug Deals

It passed without a fanfare – the WA Auditor General’s Report on Purchase and Management of Pharmaceuticals in Public Hospitals – but $205m was spent on more than 250,000 pharma orders from over 250 suppliers during 2010-11, with about 75% through the big three metro hospitals. The report said potential conflicts of interest connected with pharmaceutical purchasing are not managed well, mostly gifts and travel sponsorship, with no process to identify potential conflicts around drug selection or recommendation. State Health is changing things to reassure us.

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Medical Mining 

Let’s spend $675k to explore if UWA should expand its teaching and research services into the Pilbara. It’s the Royalties for Regions Pilbara Cities Education Partnership Fund at work, before an election. With 70% of the mining workforce aiming to be fly-in fly-out, a “diversified regional economy” seems a pipe dream given that local retail businesses are folding and rents are unaffordable. Regional medical services are stretched, with UWA’s Rural Clinical School trucking fifth-year medical students to the Pilbara and other parts of regional WA to get doctors to go bush. Notre Dame Uni joined in around 2002. Of the 180 MBBS graduates from UWA last November, 30 had rural backgrounds.

What WA GP Network?

The Feds stopped funding state-based organisations on Dec 31. WAGPN has now ‘morphed’ into Primary Care WA, moved to South Perth, retained Dr Marcus Tan (AMA Council; Health Engine CEO; Chair Perth Central & East Metro ML) and Dr Andrew Png (Chair previous Rockingham Kwinana Division) on the board. Also on the board is CEO Debra Barnes, Office Manager Loretta Allen, and Marketer Alex Meagher, plus new faces from nursing, aged care, podiatry, chiropractors and Aboriginal health. The new website says: the organisation is independent (but funded how?) and it’s the central advocacy organisation for primary care in WA because primary care organisations want it that way. Not all, it seems, and primary care bodies of different sorts are seeking direct links with the Commonwealth Government. Samantha Dowling, who was Senior Policy Officer at WAGPN, is now doing Planning and Partnerships at Perth Central & East Metro ML.

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The PHC-SJOG Connection

The inquiry into Peel Health Campus by Dr Bryant Stokes may not have the appearance of independence that a judicial inquiry has, and results are unlikely to emerge before the election. Dr Kim Hames’ past contacts with Tony Solin, who ceased his marketing job at PHC to contest Mandurah for the Liberals, has been recalled in a different light by Ms Ashton Foley who largely kick-started the PHC investigation. Tony was followed by Liz Drew who left the marketing job at PHC after only a short time. SJOG Murdoch CEO Peter Mott referred to reported problems at PHC when he announced during their Christmas function that SJOG had purchased land in Mandurah and soon expected Council approval for their planned 75-bed private hospital.

Mental Health Joondalup

When the State’s first 22-bed subacute mental health service opens at Joondalup soon, this step-down facility for people aged over 16 will be run by NGO Neami, which operates 31 sites in Australia. Rehabilitation and recovery support for people with serious mental illness is the aim, using programs to help people develop strategies to recognise symptoms, stay well and maintain their health. It’s a three-year tender under the new Mental Health Commission. More non-acute beds, community rehab beds and supported housing were flagged in the Mental Health Report, July 2012.

Cataract-Surgeon-and-nurse-ESFGambling Helps Kids?

There is no doubting that Ngala is a WA institution, providing early parenting and child development services to WA families since 1890. Many GPs and paediatricians refer their patients to its services. Premier Colin Barnett noted how Ngala “promoted the right of every child to grow up in a healthy, safe and caring environment” without mentioning that some types of problem gambling is more common among families in need. The irony was the occasion: handing over $1.5m from Lotterywest so Ngala could upgrade its Kensington head office, including its helpline, which takes 20,000 calls a year. Demand is outstripping services.

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