Charity checks in store 

When we surveyed WA specialists (October 2010) 55% said there were too many not-for-profit health organisations in WA. Now a new Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission will be introduced to crackdown on charities following this year’s Federal budget. National regulation is in the pipeline. The legal status of all groups wanting to be classed as charitable institutions will be reviewed. Minister says NFP tax concessions should only be used to assist disadvantaged people and not for unrelated commercial activities. FBT and GST concessions for commercial activities will be reviewed.

 

Hedland makes it official

It opened doors in November, but Health Minister Kim Hames only recently officially launched the new $138m Hedland Health Campus, the newest regional hospital in Australia (Albany, Kalgoorlie and Busselton to follow). Commemorative plaques were awarded to, amongst others, Dr Malcolm McCallum, Dr Allan Vickers, Dr Philip House, and Dr Pascall Burton. Hedland Health brings the Pilbara 24/7 ED, obstetrics and paediatrics wards, day surgery, renal dialysis, medical imaging and outreach specialist services.

No stop to retirement qualms 

The ruckus around the working future of semi-retired doctors will not quieten. Many are involved in charitable overseas work for which registration in the country of origin is a requirement. Others take up teaching posts with UWA or Notre Dame, become an examiner for the MAC or even sit on the Medical Board. You would expect all of them to be registered to assume these positions but current national Medical Board requirements for ongoing CME and fees will drive many away once three-year period of grace on “Occasional practice – special purpose” comes up. It has been suggested that a third of the university-based medical educator workforce could be lost under the new rules. Remember Dr Bruce Shepherd and the Australian Doctors’ Fund (ADF). It is now lobbying to reinstate the rights of retired doctors (WA leads the way again) – a ‘senior active’ category with a $100 registration fee, a minimum CPD of 10 hours a year, self directed, and an annual medical certificate.

RACGP readies for e-Health

Has anyone noticed how the latest accreditation criteria for the RACGP help position the college as a provider with the federal government, in the e-Health race? First, we now have a 70% (up from 50%) requirement that active patient records include a health summary (with standardised terminology or coding). The RACGP is promoting its health summary for the purpose. Second, patient identification should include three approved patient identifiers, presumably to improve data integrity and remove duplicate records. Third, a new criterion that practices maintain accurate medicines lists for patients.

Nice work if you can get it

Dr Neale Fong’s corporate experience in the health sector makes him an invaluable asset in mineral explorations. Chrysalis Resources Ltd (ASX:CYS) has Neale as its non-independent Executive Chairman. The company’s last quarter report has it spending more on administration ($200k) than exploration and evaluation ($150k). It is burning about $100k per month of cash reserves, having listed on the ASX in May 2008 and built $2.15m investor cash reserves by June 2010. The last annual report says Dr Fong receives $100k per year (plus 1.0m share options, value $158k), to which he can add $74k p.a. from his non-executive position on the Realms Resources (ASX: RRP) board, another mining company which also gave Dr Fong a $150K interest-free loan.

Euthanasia support alive and well

Since the NT’s Marshall Perron introduced the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill to Parliament in 1995 (and the feds overturned it in 1997) the campaign for the right of people to choose their end has died down (excuse the pun). YourLastRight.com is now on the campaign trail and a lot of high profile Australians are in their camp. You can see them on the website, along with the PollieScanner, which says in WA, six politicians support the concept, 21 are opposed and 91 have an unknown position. The latest is the national alliance of all State and Territory Dying With Dignity and Voluntary Euthanasia societies to campaign for legislation to allow rational, adult Australians experiencing intolerable and unrelievable suffering from a terminal or incurable illness, access to aid-in-dying from a doctor, after appropriate checks and reviews. They have released research findings from Oregon, where physician-assisted dying was legalised in 1997, saying the death experience as good as or better than non-assisted deaths.

WA research going strong

Overweight men with were less likely to develop dementia than those of normal weight according to a 10-year study of 12,047 men aged 65-84 years. The results from UWA-based WA Centre for Health and Ageing seem to support a review of BMI guidelines for the elderly. Another local study, this time from WAIMR, found desk jobs can double people’s bowel cancer risk. Those who work for a decade or more behind a desk have a 44% increased risk of rectal cancer. The two-year study by UWA PhD student Terry Boyle involved men and women aged 40-79 and included 918 cases and 1021 controls. It was published in the prestigious American Journal of Epidemiology. In more good news for WA research, last month construction started on the $100m research hub at the QE II Medical Centre. It will house around 800 researchers when it opens in 2013.

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