Immunise and Innovate

WA GP Dr Alan Leeb will take part in judging five $20,000 Sanofi Pasteur VaxiGrants awarded to vaccination providers with bright immunisation ideas to improve uptake and decrease wastage (closes September). Alan is no stranger to immunisation innovations. He is involved in Health Department immune surveillance as a sentinel practice, which has found that adults reacted just as much to the CSL flu vaccine (without the same ramifications). He has developed software that sends an automated cheerio SMS post-vaccination and prompts the patient to report any side effects. Responses are re-merged with his database, leading to non-responders and ‘yes’ responses being phoned.

rollercoasterBudget beauties

Budgets provoke a mass of press releases from vested interest groups, so much so that some providers have taken to summarising responses. Take the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association. Its May 11 slant on budget responses included: AMA President Dr Steven Hambleton saying government had spared health from broad funding cuts; the National Rural Health Alliance saying rural and remote areas had good news on dental care, aged care and disability services; the RDA saying the medical workforce crisis in the bush had been ignored; AGP Network chair saying the Medicare Local program had been short changed; the RACGP saying most of the issues in its pre-budget submission had been ignored; the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association saying it welcomed MBS requirements that imaging needs a qualified radiographer; Catholic Health Australia saying the 200 sub-acute beds promised as part of the COAG health reform agreement would not happen; the Public Health Association pointing to thrifty savings in Medicare rorts, private health insurance for natural therapies, and cosmetic surgery rebates; the Pharmaceutical Society saying the uncertainty of wide-ranging budget cuts was dispelled; the Consumers Health Forum saying the budget delivered on key promises in dental, disability and aged care; and the Australian Nursing Federation saying government was moving to fix Australia’s under-resourced aged-care sector.

Workcover workings

After legal advice WorkCover WA will no longer, even with the consent of the patient, supply information to employers and prospective employers in relation to workers’ compensation claims histories. The workers’ comp body has also set up eLodgment, an online alternative to lodging applications for conciliation by mail or in person. Supporting documentation can also be sent securely and applications can be tracked online as well. Lawyers and agents can also view the status of multiple conciliation applications.


Generics big business

US-based Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. is buying Switzerland’s Actavis Group for $5.6b. Both are generics manufacturers with Watson’s profits boosted in December by its generic version of Lipitor. The company expects $5b revenue this year. Privately held Actavis operates in more than 40 countries. Watson is looking forward to a higher profile in Russia and Europe and also in Greece where it has recently acquired a generics maker for $550m. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. in Israel is the world’s largest generic drug manufacturer ($13b last year). The Asia-Pacific operations of Actavis are run from its manufacturing facility in Jakarta, Indonesia, with offices in Adelaide and Melbourne.)

Rural push oversubscribed

University of WA had 66 applications for its 7 places allocated by DoHA for the John Flynn student rural placements. Students will be matched to mentors from late in July, with first placements to begin in December or January. ACCRM is still interested in finding mentors for selected students to help develop the future rural and remote workforce”.


Good luck with that

The DoHA-funded NPS is turning to Facebook to sign up “antibiotic resistance fighters” who must pledge three things – don’t expect or ask for antibiotics for a cold or flu, take prescribed antibiotics as directed, and always practise good hygiene. NPS says if 35,000 Australians join the fight (antibiotic prescribing reduced 25% in five years) it will bring Australian antibiotic usage in line with other OECD countries, or we could run out of effective antibiotics by 2030 if nothing is done. There are prizes for joining up friends. The hard truth is doctors have been overprescribing for years and it is taking stewardship programs in hospitals and consumer campaigns like this to get us motivated towards reversal..

Alcohol dependence help

A brief guide to the assessment and treatment of alcohol dependence has been produced by Next Step Drug and Alcohol services. Doctors and nurses called upon to provide withdrawal treatment are the target audience, with essentials on history, examination, investigations, observations, treatment and relapse prevention covered. Go to, enter “health professionals” in the search box and select the top clinical guideline link or obtain a printed copy from Mr Craig Carmichael, or 92191896.


Why so long coming?

Opportunistic screening and prevention are promoted in general practice all the time, so steps to do the same in a Kimberley ED is welcome news. Within the ED, nurses assessed 178 asymptomatic young people aged 16-34 years who attended ED for non-genitourinary complaints that were not medical emergencies –116 were tested, with 14 individuals were found positive for STIs (10 chlamydia, 9 gonorrhoea and 5 both). A further 29 contacts were identified of which 12 tested positive for STIs, including syphilis. The Kimberley region has just 2% of the WA population but is responsible for 37% of WA’s incidence of gonorrhoea. There are inherent treatment problems but using this existing resource to screen young men in particular is a good start, maybe rolling out to other rural hospitals.

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