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September 2008

Princess Margaret Hospital's emergency services chief Prof Gary Geelhoed has been elected AMA (WA)'s new president, replacing Prof Geoff Dobb. Dr David Mountain, AMA (WA)'s spokesman on emergency medicine, and Dr Steve Wilson, chair of the AMA (WA) Council of General Practice, were elected as vice presidents.

Dr Kevin Yuen takes over from Dr Sarah Pickstock as Medical Director at Donate West. Kevin is also consulting to RPH in palliative care.

Former CEO of the Australian Physiotherapy Association David Malone has been appointed as the executive director of Healthway...

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August 2008

NSW GP Dr Christopher Mitchell will become the next president of the RACGP following his win over current president and WA GP Dr Vasantha Preetham. Dr Mitchell won the election 1730 votes to 1296.

The WA Department of Health has appointed Dr William Patterson as the new Medical Officer with the Office of Aboriginal Health. William has been seconded from AMA (WA), where he served as Director of Public Health.

Dr Michael Quinlan has been formally named as the University of Notre Dame's Chancellor...

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July 2008

RACGP election hots up

The upcoming RACGP federal presidential election race is hotting up. NSW rural GP (and current Vice President) Dr Christopher Mitchell has already put his hand up for the top job, and now incumbent President, WA's Dr Vasantha Preetham, has thrown her hat in the ring. Vasantha is only the second President to seek a second consecutive term, although her job is cut out for her as Dr Mitchell has some factional heavy hitters behind him. Prof Peter Mudge (Chair, Tasmanian RACGP faculty), Dr Di O'Halloran (Chair, NSW & ACT faculty), Dr Jane Smith (Chair, Queensland faculty), and past RACGP president Dr Peter Joseph all support Dr Mitchell's candidacy, as does local GP Dr Olga Ward. While the RACGP has expanded its membership and been running smoothly under Vasantha's presidency, time will tell whether stability is enough to sway members. Postal ballots are open until July 16. Further info (including candidate statements) can be found at www.racgp.org.au 

Contaminated heparin recall

Batches of Sanofi-Aventis' heparin products Lovenox and Clexane (enoxaparin) have been found to contain small amounts of the contaminant over-sulphated chondroitin sulphate. In January, the USA reported 44 deaths and additional affected cases associated with exposure to unfractionated intravenous heparin produced by Baxter. More recently, the media has linked the drugs to 81 US deaths. While the risk of adverse events associated with the contaminated drugs is unknown, less than 5% of Australian Clexane is believed to be contaminated. Not surprisingly, all batches (made in late April) containing the contaminant have been recalled.

WA's air ambulance

A new jet ambulance service was launched in June by Health Minister Jim McGinty...

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July 2008

Leah Williams has left the position of Marketing, Membership, and Events Officer of the RACGP WA Faculty to travel abroad. She is replaced by Abby Roberts, who has returned from working in the UK and has a background in marketing, PR, and management.

Ear Science Institute Australia has promoted Dr Brett Robertson from Manager Clinical Services to General Manager.

Nobel Laureate Prof Barry Marshall, currently working at UWA, has been elected...

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June 2008

Cloning battle lost

Health Minister Jim McGinty says the defeat of WA's cloning bill, which would have opened up new fields of medical research in this state, is an embarrassing "slap in the face to Western Australia's scientific community." The cloning bill would have brought WA into line with other states by allowing excess embryos created through fertilisation to be used for medical research. However, conservatives from both political parties defeated the bill by 18 votes to 15 in the upper house. With the bill defeated, the short to medium term future of embryo research in WA is bleak, although with an imminent election, the bill could potentially be resurrected within 12 months.

Gray case over... almost

We've lost count of the number of rounds the three-way battle between Dr Bruce Gray, UWA, and Sirtex has lasted, but the resilient Bruce has struck a TKO on the university that originally sponsored his commercially successful research by winning a protracted court case. The fight has centred on Dr Gray's development of microspheres to fight liver cancer, which has been commercialised into multi-million dollar medical technology. The technology was developed while he worked at UWA. The win creates a dangerous precedent in that other researchers could commercialise their university-sponsored discoveries unless they have a contract stating otherwise. UWA has confirmed it will be appealing the decision, so another costly and complicated round of legal manoeuvring is on the cards.

Advance hits trouble

Just a month after offloading Cottman Australia for a tidy $8m, Advance Healthcare Group (AHG) has asked its major creditor, Fulcrum Equity, to place AHG and its subsidiaries into administration ...

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June 2008

Dr Felicity Jeffries has stepped down as Rural Health West's CEO and has taken up the newly created position of Director of Medical Clinical Reform at the WA Country Health Service. Mr Nick Francis has been appointed as Felicity's replacement at Rural Health West. Nick has been with Rural Health West for eighteen months working on special projects. Prior to that, he was the CEO of GP Down South Division.

Former Director General of WA Health Dr Neale Fong has joined the board of Prime Health Group, John Poynton's corporate health and training services provider. This is Dr Fong's second board appointment since resigning from the Health Department.

As reported in our April edition, Kevin Taylor has stepped aside as St John of God Pathology's CEO...

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