Backdoor to the bush
The doctor shortage in the bush remains critical with The West Australian claiming shires have been spending a lot of dosh to attract doctors, often without success. According to a State Opposition survey, the combined spend of 34 rural shires was over $7.3m. To help plug the gap, overseas trained doctors (OTDs) can now enter Australia under S457 visas if they are working in an area of need, bypassing the Australian Medical Council examination. There are over 500 such OTDs working in WA, all of whom need to have their qualifications verified by the State Health Department. While the majority are doing an excellent job, the AMA has concerns that the current system may not weed out rogues such as Queensland’s “Dr Death”.
Smoke and mirrors
Health Minister Jim McGinty has announced that all WA hospitals will eventually be smoke free. From January 1, the QEII medical precinct will be smoke free. The ban will affect staff and visitors, but as a concession to those on their last legs, patients will have leeway to smoke until July 1. King Edward and PMH have had total bans since March 2005. Mr McGinty wants every WA hospital smoke free, and bans extended to all government buildings in due course. No such plans are afoot for Parliament House, however. Surely hypocrisy is not rife amongst our politicians?
The Moodie blues
Michael Moodie has been stood down as Director of the Health Department’s technology program as he faces charges over alleged bogus travel claims of around $6000, which Moodie will contest. Moodie came to prominence years ago as a whistle blower alleging rorting of trust funds by doctors at PMH. He also pushed for an enquiry into deaths at KEMH that saw a major shake-up at that hospital. Following this, he was relocated to the South West Area Health Service. You have to wonder if he is in someone’s sights.
Biotech funding scrounge
A few biotechs have been digging around for extra cash. Phylogica raised $3.75m off the back of successfully delivering on its first milestone with Opsona Therapeutics in developing possible treatments for inflammatory diseases. Also on the scrounge is Resonance Health, which raised $3.08m. Clinical Cell Culture (C3) raised $10m in August 2004 and has announced it wants to repeat the feat this year to bolster the $8.6m already in the coffers.