Preetham trumps PPCN

Although a lot of parties were already in the know, it’s now official: Health Integra Pty Ltd, a company founded by former RACGP Federal President Dr Vasantha Preetham in January this year (and which includes her GP daughters Amitha and Yamini as directors) has won the Midland Super Clinic tender. The $10m question is how the Preethams, with an unproven company, could trump rival bidders such as the well-established Perth Primary Care Network?

UWA Gray on appeal

Former UWA researcher Dr Bruce Gray will be able to keep his $75m (29%) stake in Sirtex Medical after the Federal Court dismissed UWA’s appeal over ownership of the biotech’s intellectual property. In a very brief delivery of the judgment, Justices Lindgren, Finn, and Bennet upheld Justice Robert French’s decision, handed down earlier this year, which found no legal foundation for UWA’s case. UWA had claimed it had rightful ownership of Sirtex’s cancer treatment technology, which it said was developed by Dr Gray during his employment with the university. Cancer Research Fund Pty Ltd withdrew its $20.5m sharehold soon after the announcement.

Mounting a laser

Mount Hospital has installed a 100 watt Holmium laser that allows urologists to tackle much larger benign prostates than that possible with the usual heat vaporisation resection. Tackling bigger benign prostates in this way avoids open surgery. The very shallow depth of penetration means the laser acts as a thermal knife, with less deep tissue damage to cause dysuria afterwards, and less bleeding. The latter allows men on antiplatelet agents to undergo surgery. With the Mount’s urology services being ramped up, there will be more laser use there than in a Star Wars movie, with plenty of bladder tumours, stones, and urethral strictures in the crosshairs.

MRI scanner for Charlies

New technology abounds in WA’s hospitals right now! A new $3.5m state-of-the-art MRI scanner has been installed at Charlies. Shortly to be upgraded with cutting-edge ‘multi-transmit’ technology, the scanner (a Philips Achieva 3.0 Tesla MRI), the first of its kind in Australia, was officially launched by Health Minister Kim Hames. “This machine is faster and produces clearer images than conventional MRI scanners and enables doctors to see into parts of the body previously off limits,” Dr Hames said. “Its state-of-the-art technology will have tremendous benefits for the more than 4,000 patients who will use the scanner each year. Doctors will need to order fewer tests and potentially be able to spot diseases and other complications earlier.”

Anti-smoking campaign sticks

A recently released survey suggested that less than 5% of WA’s 12 to 17 year-olds were regular smokers. The HDWA 2008 Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey also showed that the proportion of students who have never smoked had been dramatically turned around. In 2008, almost 75% of 12 to 17 year-olds had never smoked, compared with only 32% in 1984. Health Minister Kim Hames said the impressive results showed the success of 25 years of sustained anti-tobacco campaigning.  “Only a few years ago nobody would have believed that regular smoking would be under 5% in school children and under 15% in adults, and that there would be legislation banning point-of-sale displays and smoking around children in cars,” he said.


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