WA News Have You Heard? December 2016
December 2016
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201612-RANZCOG-Sim-WarsASMMay the Forceps Be With You’ and with invocation the inaugural SimWars were kicked off at RANZCOG’s annual ASM held in Perth recently. The team event was organised by Dr Katrina Calvert from Fiona Stanley Hospital and involved teams from O&G units from Queensland, NZ and WA who competed in a live, real-time, on-stage simulation of an emergency. Also on hand were paramedics from St John Ambulance, midwifery, nursing and anaesthetic volunteers from King Edward Memorial Hospital, Osborne Park Hospital and Fiona Stanley Hospital, the acting talents of the Broome Hospital medical students, and support and equipment from Peel health Campus. Katrina said it was fantastic to have had the chance to learn together, while showcasing what simulation could do, and have fun in the process. The victors? The Brisbane team, The Mater Mannequin Muddlers, took out the People's Choice Award for the best overall team. The winner of the Best Debriefing Award was the New Zealand team (The Kiwi Strikes Back), and winner of the Best Simulation Scenario Performance Award was the WA team (Team Mothership).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.


The Health Informatics Society of Australia’s WA event HITWA last month saw an impressive line-up of talent talking up digital disruption to like-minded people who will no doubt be leading the rest of us by the hand into the brave new world of eHealth. Dr Monica Trujillo head of Clinical and Consumer Engagement and Clinical Governance at the Australian Digital Health Agency not surprisingly talked up the My Health Record and announced the start of an online and face-to-face consultation process that would wrap up at the end of January. She said secure messaging was a key priority (see RACGP story below). The opt-out strategy employed at the trial sites in Queensland and NSW was producing high numbers of stayers. Dr Trujillo said there were 4.28m consumer registrations nationally (54% were women; and representing 18% of the population) and 9299 providers have signed up.

RACGP leads secure messaging

Those GPs who were at the GP16 member forum on digital disruption would have seen Melbourne GP Dr Nathan Pinskier’s wise digital head at work. And those who read last month’s snippet about the forum would know the kerfuffle raised by the phasing out of faxes. News has just come through that Nathan will oversee the development of secure electronic messaging so doctors can prise their fingers off the fax machine. Australian Digital Health Agency chief Tim Kelsey said interoperable secure messaging was the agency’s top priority. His choice of Nathan is strategic. Mr Kelsey told a RACGP eHealth forum that the agency recognised that doctors had a “history of disappointment” regarding digital health and they needed their confidence restored. Nathan, an outspoken critic of the Government’s former eHealth policies, said without secure point-to-point messaging, doctors would not join the eHealth train. Joining Nathan on the project are WA community representative Fiona Panagoulias and Dr Mal Thatcher, CEO of eHealth Queensland.

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.

Unlocking mysteries of Sarcopaenia

In the aged care edition in November, Geriatrician Dr Rita Malik wrote about the need for growing awareness of the prevalence of Sarcopaenia in the over 65 cohort. Now the University of Melbourne is leading a push for more research into the muscle-wasting disease that affects one in three people globally over the age of 60. Prof Gustavo Duque says while it is common knowledge we lose muscle mass as we age, we don’t know how much is normal. He said Sarcopenia was to muscles what osteoporosis was to bones, but little is known of the disease. Current research is focusing on exercise, protein supplements and Vitamin D and Prof Duque is leading clinical trials into anti-myostatin antibodies which are found to curb muscle growth.

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.”

201612-Michael-Stanford-Black-Swan-portraitLast month we saw artists from the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture help harness the healing power of art with residents of Amana Living who have dementia. Last month artists took to the foyers of two St John of God hospitals in Subiaco and Midland for public portrait sittings with patients and visitors, while group CEO Dr Michael Stanford found time to sit for his portrait at SJG Murdoch. The Black Swan exhibition has concluded at the Art Gallery of WA but a selection of works from the exhibition will be on display in salon showings at the three hospitals until early this month.Review cracking down on fraud

The Professional Services Review annual report was released last month and took a swipe at larger GP practices from where individual GPs had been picked up for Medicare rorting. It said an emerging issue was the extent to which the practice owner was responsible for ensuring that contracted practitioners do not engage in inappropriate practice. To date, no officers of bodies corporate have been referred to PSR for review. This is despite the fact that the practice may have benefited while the individual doctor was asked to repay all the money. It’s a loophole the PSR wants to close. The report also noted that nearly 54% of those doctors referred to the PSR for investigation were overseas-trained. One English graduate new to Australian general practice particularly worried MBS items 721 and 723 (around chronic disease management) over 400 times in a year without proper documentation.

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.

CPD concerns a sign

With revalidation talk heating up over the coming months, there has been grumpy talk from GP education providers about the RACGP’s new QI & CPD regime, which providers say is anti-competitive. Increase in provider fees and the college’s decision to take a mandatory education component in-house have been the sticking points. The exchange boiled down to “is not, is so” kind of talk but it is a promise of things to come and needs to be managed if the education and training sectors are to avoid the tangled mess that seems to be the byword of health reform these days.

You really, really love us

This news may make it all worthwhile. According to independent social research commissioned by the Medical Board of Australia, doctors are the most trusted of the professionals along with nurses and pharmacists. The research forms part of the Board’s work on revalidation and was designed to help it understand what the public expected doctors to do to demonstrate ongoing fitness and competence. It has apparently ruled out UK-style revalidation and made it clear that doctors will not be required to re-sit their fellowship exams every five years. Merry Christmas and hold on to your hats in the New Year.