Rural service honoured
Dr AndrewTaylor, Dr Diane Mohen, Dr Angus Turner, Dr Peter Lines and the Governor, Mr Malcolm McCusker>The annual Rural Health West awards took on an extra shine this year as the organisation celebrated its 25th anniversary. Before the gala dinner last month, 21 doctors were acknowledged for their service to rural and remote WA communities. Ophthalmologist Dr Angus Turner, who was on the cover of the July 2013 edition of Medical Forum, Dr Rosemary Lee, who consults on Cocos Islands; and Dr Andrew Taylor, from Busselton, received Wesfarmers awards. WACHS awards went to Dr Peter Lines’ for his contribution to Narembeen and Dr Diane Mohen, for her rural obstetric work. Rosemary was unable to attend the ceremony.
Decriminalising’ patient transports
One of the contentious issues for mental health consumers and carers during the public comment stage of the Mental Health Bill, currently before State Parliament, was the issue of involuntary patient transport. The current Act requires a police escort for patients between hospitals – not popular with either patient or the police. Mental Health Minister Helen Morton has announced a two-year pilot transport service that would see specially trained WA Health personnel escort people between hospitals. Quite rightly, she said it would reduce the stigma associated with acute mental illness, while also relieving emergency departments of patients who require specialist mental health care. The trial will begin with 19 specially trained people who have been made ‘Special Constables’ to comply with the current Act.
Don’t overlook volunteers
The Health Consumers Council WA has paramedics in its sights. The Executive Director Mr Frank Prokop says the council is liaising with paramedics as they seek to formalise and improve professional career structures. Frank says paramedics undertake an important role in first response care but he also wants to highlight the “important and valued work” of St John Ambulance volunteers. Frank says better professional recognition for paramedics should be done without compromising the satisfaction and contribution of volunteers.
World stage for Virax
In biotech news, Perth-based Virax Holdings has entered into a binding agreement to acquire Pathway Oncology, the holder of exclusive worldwide licence of anti-cancer technology developed at Yale University and the Moffitt Cancer Centre in Florida. Business News reports the deal would transform Virax into one of only a few ASX-listed biotech companies with potential for multiple clinical trials in the US. Virax will issue Pathway 60m shares on settlement, plus up to another 180m shares upon achievement of major value-creating milestones.
Research focus on women
Premature birth and breastfeeding have been keeping local researchers busy. Work is under way at the Women and Infants Research Foundation (WIRF) where Dr Demleza Ireland is investigating the link between very early cases of preterm birth, and infection and inflammation in the uterus. Under the microscope is the reaction in the placenta caused by cytokines and studying a new group of drugs that block them. At Curtin University, Dr Christine Pollard and her team have just had their research paper into population perceptions of breastfeeding published. Nearly half the women surveyed cited work as a barrier to breastfeeding with soreness and milk supply the other top reasons. More alarming was that nearly a quarter of both men and women thought breastfeeding in public was not acceptable.
Naloxone project widens
Curtin University has won a Drug and Alcohol Office contract for $28,500 to provide data collection services for a Naloxone project where researchers will interview participants after they have been dispensed with replacement doses of the opioid antagonist. It’s expected that up to 150 people will join the project over a two-year period. Part of the evaluation will be interviews with key informants such as ambulance officers, medical practitioners, Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) staff, and WASUA staff involved in the training.
False conduct findings
Two Perth-based breast imaging providers have felt the hot breath of the Federal Court last month. Breast Check and its former owner [and former GP] Alexandra Boyd’s guilty findings of false and misleading conduct were well publicised. On March 19, Ms Joanne Firth, who owned Safe Breast Imaging, was also found to have engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false representations about its breast imaging services. Both companies were using a Multifrequency Electrical Impedance Mammograph device. The court also took SBI to task for promotional material which represented that named medical doctors had interpreted and written reports when they had not. In other instances, people named as doctors in the reports were not medical doctors. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said both cases sounded a clear warning to the medical services industry that claims about medical services must be accurate and supported by credible scientific evidence.