The android-iPhone ‘app’ deluge continues when it comes to locating a doctor. St John of God Healthcare have just launched their freebie, downloadable by searching ‘SJGHC Find a Doctor’, so you can search one of their specialists in VIC, WA or NSW using location, name or speciality. Getting into them might be another matter. You may have noticed a sticker on your Sunday Times lately, promoting the WA Health Department’s ‘GP After Hours’ app for iPhones only. Among the 42 general practices you can look up and phone direct, there are nine GP After Hours services aligned with hospitals and with longer extended hours than the rest, usually. Then you have AMA Find a Doctor, an iPhone app launched through Queensland AMA using the federal AMA’s national member list, where you can tap into your local AMA GP (which leaves around 60-70% of GPs off your radar)
Sex and the Single Fish
Britain faces a £30bn bill to clean up rivers, streams and drinking water supplies contaminated by synthetic hormones from contraceptive pills. Drastic reductions in these chemicals, which have been linked to collapses in fish populations, are proposed in the latest European Union water framework directive. More than 2.5 million women who take oral contraceptives in the UK (or flush them down the toilet) are inadvertently defaecating ethinylestradiol (EE) into UK water systems, which researchers say is inducing intersex in freshwater fish. At very low concentrations, male fish reduce sperm production and fish populations dwindle. Canadians added EE2 into a lake until five parts per trillion were reached and fish populations suffered severe problems. In the UK, sewerage works close to waterways are the problem – so much for recycling! The EU has proposed 0.035ppt as a safe level but achieving that will by expensive. Pharmaceutical companies are lobbying hard
More Men on HRT
A recent MJA article suggests promotion of ‘andropause’ or ‘male menopause’ has caused a significant rise in testosterone prescription, nine-fold over the past two decades to >$12m each year. This is small in comparison to say, oncology PBS costs. Qld wins the testosterone script stakes while WA has jumped 400% from a lowish level a decade ago. The author, Prof Handelsman from Andrology Australia, suggested there is no evidence of deficiency rates increasing or improved diagnosis, so non-approved use is a candidate explanation.
Parents Voices Heard.
WA Health has allocated an extra $0.5m this year to boost Botox treatment for children with cerebral palsy after heavy lobbying by parents. Wait lists of 11 to 21 months were stalling treatment for more than 129 kids, with about 260 already on treatment that requires repeat doses. The money will go to paying for extra staff after the Health Department approved a “business case” for the extra expenditure
The Waiting Game
Everything seems urgent when you get cancer. Every day counts. So interest in wait lists for cancer surgery has been high since the federal government pasted figures at the MyHospitals website. At Freo Hospital the median wait during 2010-11 was three weeks for bladder, bowel and melanoma cancer. At RPH, while waits for bladder and bowel cancer surgery were the same, melanoma surgery happened two weeks earlier but kidney cancer wait was three weeks and breast, two weeks. At Charlies, most cancers were operated on within two weeks, with melanoma a week’s wait and bladder cancer 8 weeks. Of course all these waits relate to after the specialist puts someone on the list. Time taken to reach the specialist is not given.
Working Mans Blues
A mental health consultancy group recently had Perth lawyers explain responsibilities for mental health in the workplace to a local audience. The press release said the Australian mining industry loses up to $450m a year due to mental illness-related workplace issues (absenteeism, attending while sick, and increase in physical injury), that 85% of surveyed workers felt disclosing a mental health problem to their employer or manager worked against them, and that nearly half of all senior managers believe none of their workers will experience a mental health problem at work. If you come across a male patient who needs encouragement to take better care of their physical and emotional wellbeing, point them to The Bloke’s Book which covers a wide range of health and lifestyle topics and provides a directory of WA services, support groups and programs relating to men. A brilliant resource produced by the Men’s Advisory Network (MAN) (which has a resourceful website and a new CEO), and is available through them or online at www.man.org.au.