No step down to retirement
Come July 1, 281 doctors with limited registration (Public Interest – Occasional Practice) will no longer be able to write scripts or referrals for friends or family. AHPRA is abolishing this category. These semi-retired doctors will be no longer. The task will fall to other doctors, maybe the 181 docs with limited registration working in supervised practice or doing postgraduate training! With 37% of LPIOP docs in WA 65 years or younger, and 83% male, the already overstretched profession is going to feel the difference! In comparison, Queensland has twice the number of doctors as WA, but only half the LPIOP doctors.

Telethon trickle feed
 As they get published in scientific journals, West Australians are being treated to findings from Telethon Institute for Child Health’s part in the Australian Study of Childhood Brain Tumours (AUS-CBT), a national NHMRC-funded case-control study between 2006-11, which investigates the interplay of genetic, dietary and environmental risk factors for CBT (about 350 cases). So far, findings include that preconception maternal folate supplements halve the risk of CBT, there is no association with maternal or paternal smoking (no press release on this one!), and preconception maternal or paternal exposure to diesel fumes increases risk. The latest is that if you call in your termite pest controller to treat the house the year before conception, it may double the CBT risk. We are not sure what happens in other States but investigations in WA uncovered household over-treatments with carcinogenic organochlorine pesticides, leading to them being banned. The common thread through all this might be DNA damage/protection.

 Pain lobby targets government
The pain “industry” (see www.painaustralia.org.au) is keen to see chronic pain listed as a chronic disease as part of federal government strategy, especially with the upcoming election. Painaustralia has sent a press release saying that 40% of early retirements (280,000 Australians aged 45-64) are due to back problems and arthritis, which equals chronic pain. It’s costing the country and effective treatment and management of chronic pain could keep more people working and paying taxes longer (saving $13.7m in 2013, increasing thereafter). A new nexus between health, economics and welfare is needed, according to study author and health economist Professor Schofield. Is she right?

Paediatrician acquitted of insider trading
As an update to last month’ story, Fremantle Hospital paediatrician Flemming Nielsen has been acquitted of 11 charges of insider trading, with a hung jury on the remaining two charges, which ASIC has dropped. The case involved shares purchased in Vision Systems in 2006, which we do not think is related to the Medical Vision Australia that has been in the news lately over a dropped class action around imported breast implants.

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Wise words heeded
Kids in lockdown at adult prisons and those facing court have hit the headlines again. The President of the Children’s Court, Judge Denis Reynolds, foreshadowed some of these flashpoints in Medical Forum (August edition) and in the case of the mental health of young offenders, Government has listened. Back then he poured cold water on the plan to have a special Mental Health Court saying it would be better to spend that money to increase mental health services. The Government has now announced that juvenile offenders with mental health issues – an estimated 250 a year – would have access to a team of professionals including psychologists and specialist nurses, to provide assessments for the court and support the children..

Peel Health Campus
There were a few dropped jaws when it was ‘revealed’ by Health Minister Dr Kim Hames on April 8 that Ramsay Health Care would take over the operation of the Peel Health Campus from Health Solutions WA. Surprising on two counts – firstly, it seems Dr Hames jumped the gun before Ramsay, an ASX-listed company, had told the Exchange it had entered an agreement with HSWA. And, secondly, the swipe he took at former chairman of HSWA, Mr Jon Fogarty. Both put the Minister in some choppy seas. As the news cycle wore on that day, Ramsay made an official statement about the agreement, subject to state approvals and the transfer of operating licences. By late afternoon the story accommodated Singapore-based Mr Fogarty who said he was disappointed that news of “a great development for the people of Peel … has been given a negative slant with a slur on me”. In the age of the instant journalism the episode reminds us that ‘loose lips can sink ships’ or at least let in a little water.

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