Hospice changeover.

Murdoch Community Hospice, its staff and volunteers, is now under the umbrella of St John of God Health Care. The hospice, established in 1998, is on the grounds of St John of God Hospital Murdoch and takes public patients. SJOG is committed to expanding the 20-bed facility with its established reputation for palliative care to both inpatients and outpatients. Eleanor Roderick is its new General Manager. SJOG already has small palliative care units for public and private patients at Geraldton and Bunbury.

Child abuse audited.

The auditor general has looked at implementation of the Gordon Inquiry recommendations to combat family violence and child abuse in Aboriginal communities (120 recommendations in all, supported by $66.5m paid to 15 public sector agencies). It found inadequacies in the central reporting and monitoring of progress – oversight groups do not have basic information such as the total number of initiatives, number implemented, estimated final expenditure and anticipated completion dates. Three of 10 key initiatives are behind schedule.

Interesting conflict.

Dr Rosanna Capolingua’s appointment to the Medical Board was seen by some doctors as too “political”, with potential conflict of interests serving on both AMAWA Executive and a non-factional Board. Conflict of interest claims have surfaced again, this time in relation to her election to MDA National Council, not because of the political backing she received from AMAWA but because of her Medical Board position. Comment centres around the conflict of sitting on one body prosecuting wayward doctors and another defending them.

Cap breach in radiology.

A Federal Government agreement caps spending on both pathology and diagnostic imaging. Both professional groups must stay within a growth factor of 5-6%pa. If outlays for government are under budget, rebates go up. An overspend sees them go down the following year. This year is shaping up as a down year – research by Deutsche bank says diagnostic imaging increased over 7% in the first half of 2005/06, and is still trending above the 5% cut-off. Cuts to rebates seem inevitable. At this stage, pathology outlays are tracking in line with budget projections.

Backing a winner.

Doctors whinge about favourable government treatment given to pharmacists. Their five year agreement protects pharmacies from competition in a landscape where competition is king. The Pharmacy Guild is a skilful lobby group, contributing $600,000 to political parties since the late 1990s. Donation figures to political parties show various pharmaceutical companies have also been donating – Pfizer, Janssen-Cilag, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck Sharp & Dohme – with the Libs generally receiving more than Labor. Pfizer’s $150,000 to both sides of politics over a number of years, included costs of attending political functions. The AMA has donated a little over $20,000, most to the Liberal side. Compare this to the 4.5 lobbyists for every member of Congress in Washington.

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