Universities ready for action

The university sector is bracing for a huge 2017. Curtin University’s Medical School has been granted accreditation by the AMC which has given the school the green light to start its first year of training in February. The AMC go-ahead sparked renewed criticism from AMA president Dr Michael Gannon, who told The Medical Republic that the AMA would hold Curtin to all its undertakings, including the promise to take high school graduates from less-privileged areas. The Dean, Prof William Hart, said to date there had been 1506 applications for the 60 available places. By 2022, the intake is expected to rise to 120 a year – 110 domestic and 10 international students. Next year, the University of Notre Dame medical school will join UWA with a newly minted MD course. UWA will launch an undergraduate Medical Sciences major in 2017, which will enable students with this under their belt to be recognised for credits or exemptions when they commence the post-graduate MD. One program that is putting runs on the board is UWA’s Rural Student Recruitment Program, which this year (it’s 16th) sees 60 rural students from 22 country towns, including 17 from Bunbury, graduate – the biggest number of rural background doctors to graduate in a single year. The students are from towns including Albany, Bridgetown, Broome, Bunbury, Carnarvon, Christmas Island, Denmark, Esperance, Geraldton, Kalbarri, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Lake Grace, Mandurah, Manjimup, Moorine Rock, Narrogin, Northam, Oakford, Serpentine and Yallingup.

Rush is on at Midland

The public-private partnership between St John of God Health Care and the WA Government at Midland celebrated is first anniversary on November 24 and by official reports the public hospital has exceeded expectations, so much so, the Government has injected a 12% increase in funds for the coming year. The public hospital has treated 26,832 inpatients, 81,132 outpatients, 59,838 ED presentations, performed 9000 procedures and delivered 1650 babies. And between the SJG Midland Public and Private Hospitals, about 161,000 patients have been through the doors. The hospital expects increased activity next year in the area of orthopaedics, general and plastic surgery and gynaecology.

Fire emergency and smooth return

Meanwhile, down the road at SJG Mt Lawley Hospital, November was a month of real-life fire emergency and high drama. A fire which started on November 1 in the kitchen saw the evacuation of 77 patients and an awful mess to clear up after the fire brigade had doused the flames. In less than three weeks 24 patients were welcome back and the operating theatre, maternity, surgical, medical and rehabilitation wards were back in business. Acting CEO Ben Edwards said the hospital’s medical consulting suites, SKG Radiology, Mercy Physiotherapy and St John of God Pathology were not impacted by the fire.

Specialist presence in Mandurah    

But wait … there’s more from SJGHC. After losing out to Ramsay Health for the buy-out of the controversial government contract to run the Peel Health Campus (which by the way falls due in 12 months), and shelving plans for a private hospital just across the road from the existing campus – at least for the moment – the not-for-profit has ventured into the region once again, this time opening consulting suites in Mandurah for urology, orthopaedics, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, upper gastrointestinal and counselling.

Cautionary tale from a GP

Recently a GP wrote into Medical Forum’s lead hotline with concerns about the packaging of Elevit products. He wrote: “I thought it reasonable to trust that Elevit contains folic acid. There is a new product Elevit morning sickness relief which has none. It’s a bit cheaper. It looks very similar. It should be sold as an add-on but one of my patients bought it by mistake. If taken alone through the first trimester – when sickness is most common – it will not reduce the risk of NTD as we expect Elevit should. The ingredients are not in themselves harmful, but please check that your pregnant patients are taking the right Elevit, or script folic acid. The risk is low but the consequence large. I have contacted Bayer, but meantime, GP awareness could help.” We also contacted Bayer who responded that it took great care when developing the packaging of products to ensure that they “not only portray the benefits of the product but also provide clear advice on the ingredients and usage”, the spokesperson said. The colour-coded packaging on Elevit Morning Sickness was designed to differentiate it from other products in the range and its “Directions for use” information explains that the product is suitable for use in combination with Elevit Pregnancy Multivitamins. However, it did welcome the feedback adding: “Bayer monitors the packaging after launch to ensure it continues to perform in the manner in which it was originally designed.”

Unhappy Health Care Homes

We have reported previously the RACGP concerns about the funding for the Health Care Homes model and it is now even more ‘disappointed’ as a result of government news over practice and patient eligibility as well as payment systems. During the past month, there’s been argy bargy about the limiting of non-chronic disease consultation for a registered patient to five visits a year. New College president Dr Bastian Seidel smelt a rat when the Government released details late on a Friday afternoon – known in a news room as the graveyard hour. The Government was obviously not up for another stoush with the college and dropped the proposal to cap the GP visits. To save face they changed the wording of the fact sheet to say: “Enrolled patients can still access fee-for service episodes of care not related to a patient’s chronic conditions.” But it’s still not a good look. The AMA Vice President Dr Tony Bartone said the government should consider delaying the Health Care Home trials in order to win over GPs confidence as the reform was “too important to fail”. That hasn’t had a reaction from the Minister leaving GPs until December 15 to register their interest in joining the trials.