Support for volunteers
Our December e-Poll of 233 doctors showed 55% of GPs and 70% of specialists were willing to lose income and give their time to any overseas program that could use their skills. The DoH says it will cover employees’ income loss. Each year, under Community Service Leave administered by the Global Health Alliance WA (which sends nurses and midwives to Tanzania currently), around 100 health workers (including doctors) are given two weeks paid leave to help people in developing countries. The volunteer group may pay travel and accommodation costs.

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Liquor Act review
The comprehensive review of the Liquor Control Act makes 141 significant recommendations. WA Police laid it on the line with extensive submissions on most subjects, especially secondary supply and licence restrictions. Youth organisations such as Youth Affairs Council, the CCYP and, of course, the McCusker Centre and Healthway got stuck into advertising of alcohol. And mostly the committee listened. Small bars get a reprieve but the Australian Hotels Association is fuming, saying the report caters to police and health at the expense of retailers. The Police Commissioner dismisses this claim anyway. The Health Minister wants time to consider. See www.rgl.wa.gov.au

 Abuse victims recognised

The Country High School Hostels Ex Gratia Scheme (closed December 31), has paid 90 (from 105 applications) former hostel residents who suffered abuse; payments of up to $45,000, totalling $3.2m. Community Services Minister Tony Simpson acknowledged that the payout was not the victims’ primary motivation but rather the recognition of abuse. The scheme follows Judge Peter Blaxell’s inquiry into abuse of children at St Andrew’s Hostel in Katanning.

Kaleeya to close

The 75-bed Kaleeya Hospital in East Fremantle will close in late November, 2014, and its services will transfer to Fiona Stanley and Fremantle Hospital. FSH will take on Kaleeya’s obstetrics, gynaecology and neonatal services and its sub-acute services, such as aged care, will be taken up at Fremantle. Elective surgery will be divided between the two. The Kaleeya site will be sold as prime real estate, and the Minister says no job losses for either the 168 clinical or 64 non-clinical staff.

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 Help for ‘grandcarers’
We examined the issue of the rising number of grandparents raising of their children’s children in our aged care edition. Now the WA Government is trialling a financial support scheme for 2500 ‘Grandcarers’ that would give them $400 for the first child under 16 and $250 each for other children. Wanslea Family Services will administer the scheme and get $100,000 to expand its support services including respite, an information line and nine support groups.

Knee prosthesis withdrawal
Do your patients have a Smith & Nephew Journey Bi-Cruciate Stabilised (BCS) knee replacement in place? The Australian Orthopaedic Association’s National Joint Replacement Registry (AOANJRR), which highlighted problems with some metal-on-metal hip replacements, has the Journey BCS, launched in 2006, as having a higher than expected rate of revisions due to pain and instability (rate of 1.59 per 100 observed component years compared to 0.72 for others, or a yearly cumulative revision of 7% at 5 years compared to 3.8% for others). Smith & Nephew has issued a hazard alert and withdrawn the femoral implant component, which in effect means Journey BCS. There have been about 3300 implanted in Australia, 110 in WA. The TGA has been proactive after being criticised for inaction in the past. Watch this space.

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