Heart starter
It was opened in January but the new eight-bed coronary care unit at Bunbury has been dormant since due to the lack of local cardiologists to provide the necessary 24/7 cover. Heralded as a great thing for local residents under Royalties for Regions, this first regional CCU has attracted 457 visa nursing staff who have now been moved to medical wards, replacing casuals. Coronary angiograms are performed in the CCU, using the latest equipment in this private-public facility.

Money in the bag?
Now the Coalition has been installed as the Federal Government, there are huge expectations from the health sector to be met – especially in primary care. The new Health Minister Peter Dutton campaigned on his commitment to make the first 100 days of government all about general practice and there are a lot of organisations ready and waiting for action, not least among them the RACGP and the training organisations. Before the election there were media releases from many of them congratulating the Coalition’s promise, now there is a similar flurry of reminders. The way some of the statements are worded, the money’s in the bag. The clock starts ticking now.

Money for kids’ cancer and pain
There has been a concerted campaigned in the media to increase funding for the oncology services at PMH and last month, the Health Minister announced funding for two more cancer specialists and an extra $20.5m over four years to recruit about 14 FTE cancer staff. While he was at it he announced $3.7m for extra services including a $600,000 to establish a paediatric pain service (see www.medicalhub.com.au/component/content/article/9-top-stories/4089-calls-grow-for-kids-pain-unit-) $750,000 for the ICU for cardiac and other complex surgical cases, $342,000 for ENT, $342,000 for ophthalmology to reduce waiting times and $400,000 to the immunology department to meet the increased numbers of children presenting with allergic conditions. The new children’s hospital is expected to open in 2015.

Pop the Cork
You can love it or loathe it but there’s not denying that Medicare is part of our landscape – for an amazing 30 years. On September 5, Medicare celebrated its 30th anniversary with the publication of a book, Making Medicare, which is a joint publication between Australian Hospitals and Healthcare Association (AHHA) and its research arm, the Deeble Institute. The book provides an in-depth analysis of an institution that forms the bedrock of our healthcare system. Former Federal Health Minister and founder of Medicare, Dr Neal Blewett launched it.

Chocks Away at FSH
It was heads down and ear-muffs on at Fiona Stanley recently. The chopper pad, conveniently placed above operating theatres, intensive care and the ED, has been given a test-run and passed with flying colours. The 729sqm, 90 tonne deck ‘floats’ on rubber pads which mitigates vibration and can accommodate the two largest emergency helicopters in the State. FSH will be the only hospital outside Perth’s CBD with a helipad and will service patients from Rottnest and southern regions. The first patients, airborne or otherwise, will start arriving in October 2014 as part of a staged commissioning process.

DoH short-term grants
The Department of Health has up to $400,000 set aside for two short-term Targeted Research Fund grants in two directed research areas – Alcohol-related harm in 14-24 year olds and managing complex care in the primary care setting. The research component must be completed within 24 months and applications close on October 14, 2013. Application packs from www.health.wa.gov.au/researchdevelopment/funding/funding_status.cfm#trf

RDAA win some
It appears the The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) and its state associations will continue to collectively negotiate with state and territory health departments on behalf of rural doctors after the ACCC issued a draft decision. The negotiations relate to the terms and conditions under which rural doctors, including GPs and locums, provide services in public hospitals and health facilities as VMOs and provide after-hours services. It doesn’t look like the RDAA will be as successful in its claim to collectively negotiate with newly established Medicare Locals and Local Hospital Networks. The ACCC said it was not proposing to extend authorisation to negotiations with these parties because it is concerned that the benefits are likely to be more limited and collective negotiations may reduce price competition and the scope to negotiate specifically tailored solutions for each region. But it has left the door open before making its final decision.

Number crunching
Last month, Medical Forum got hot-off-the-press NeHTA figures that showed there were 726,967 registered PCEHRs as of August 19. It has since released a breakdown of figures (but only until July 10), which puts the number of registered general and multidisciplinary practices at 3723 or 53% of total general practices in Australia. WA is said to have the lowest general practice involvement in the country. It also said 72 Aboriginal Medical Services, seven aged care facilities, 47 allied health, 70 community health centres, 271 community pharmacies, 50 Medicare Local/State/Territory or Area Health Services, three private hospitals, eight public hospitals and 73 specialists have registered. The figures aren’t stunning! In regards to ePrescriptions being downloaded from the two prescription exchange services, eRx and MediSecure, the figures are increasing, although not, it’s been reported by Pulse+IT, at the volume that they are being uploaded by GPs. As of July 2.7% of the Australian population has registered for a PCEHR

WA obstetrics boost
The RANZCOG was flying the flag at the GPET conference at Burswood to promote its three training programs. WA participants across all three number 126: Certificate in Women’s Health done in medical practices (7), Obstetrics Diploma (88), and Advanced Obstetrics Diploma (31), which is 18% of national intake and qualifies GPs to do caesarians). Training for both Diplomas is done at Albany, Geraldton, Hedland, Joondalup, King Edward, Osborne Park, Rockingham and Swan District hospitals. Advanced Diploma training only is at Nickol Bay, Armadale and Peel Hospitals, whereas Bunbury Hospital only offers standard Diploma training.

Philanthropy in Bali
Your dollar goes further overseas. Not long ago we featured John Poynton’s attitudes to philanthropy in medicine, and conducted an e-Poll on the same topic. The John Fawcett Foundation, with strong ties to Perth, took one mobile eye clinic and professional team to Sebatu in Bali where 367 people were examined, 11 operable cataracts were removed in the mobile theatre, and glasses were distributed to 274 people and eye medicines to 100 patients – thanks to J. Poynton sponsorship.

Cyclists-Feb12 2Riding high
On October 12 Shadow Minister for Health Roger Cooke will cycle off with a multitude of teams on a 200km ride to raise money for cancer research at WAIMR. He has reached $1650 of his $2500 target for The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer. If you want to help him achieve his target or join a cycling team, go to http://pr13.conquercancer.org.au. You can donate to him or other riders (which includes Dr Tony Tropiano, we noticed, as a first timer).

Right care, right time, right location
That’s the motto of the new Central Referral Allocation Unit, due to launch late this year. It boasts a number of benefits but, basically, referrals will be directed to the closest, most available, most appropriate, hospital-based service – “to reduce delays for initial outpatient appointments and subsequent downstream services”. It’s a way of rationalising things while demand outstrips supply across metro Perth. Initially it will be paper-based, then electronic, with GPs having a single entry point.


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