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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:51 am 
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More funds sought to close disability gap

KEY states are demanding the federal government commit hundreds of millions of dollars more to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme at this week's Council of Australian Governments meeting before they reach agreement on trials of the scheme due to begin in July next year.

The NSW and Victorian governments have put in a joint bid to run one of the first trials of the NDIS involving 15,000 people in the Hunter region of NSW and Geelong in Victoria, but a spokesman for NSW Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance said it would require more federal funding.

"We're willing to put forward the $200 million we're spending in the Hunter now, the commonwealth (has) put in $150m, but that leaves a funding gap of between $100m and $150m," a spokesman for Mr Constance said. "We're expecting the commonwealth to fill that gap."

This week federal Disabilities Minister Jenny Macklin is considering bids from states that want to host the NDIS trials but says there will be no more federal money available. The commonwealth set aside $1 billion for the first stage of the NDIS in the May budget, including funding for four trial sites involving 10,000 people next year and another 10,000 in 2014, but has not said how it would fund the eventual $7bn-a-year cost of the full scheme.

A Deloitte Access Economics paper has suggested a national payroll tax, raising $11.2bn, was the most efficient way of funding the scheme if it were used to fund both the NDIS ($6.5bn) and the replacement of state transaction taxes such as stamp duty on insurance ($4.7bn).

The Australian understands Julia Gillard is close to reaching a deal with one state on an NDIS trial at the COAG meeting starting tomorrow.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said yesterday his government strongly supported the NDIS and had committed $20m in the state budget to fund a trial, but wanted the commonwealth to commit on how it would fund the full scheme.

Tasmania has also put its hand up to run a trial of the NDIS involving about 1000 people.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has hardened his position and today will confirm his state's support for the scheme but refuses to pay for its implementation.

"The Prime Minister comes up with proposals like the NDIS . . . and then puts her hand out to the states to fund her ideas," Mr Newman said. "The fact is the federal government has a responsibility to fund welfare reform and the states simply do not have the revenue or financial capacity to keep funding Labor's promises."

The disability support workforce will have to double to provide the extra services required in trials of the NDIS, and service providers are urging state and federal leaders to finalise the location of the launch sites at COAG this week.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nationa ... 6433342043


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:26 am 
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Nurses secure 3 per cent pay rise

Queensland nurses have ticked off on a deal granting them pay rises of 3 per cent a year and improved Sunday night penalty rates.

The Queensland Nurses Union welcomed its members' decision to endorse the deal, but vowed to closely monitor workloads as the state government looks for savings in non-frontline health positions.

The majority of public sector nurses and midwives who voted in a ballot, counted today, decided to accept the new collective workplace agreement.

The deal includes a 3 per cent annual pay rise, back-dated to April 1, the day after the last enterprise bargaining agreement expired.

The union said this would translate to a $42 per week increase for general ward nurses in the first year, while most allowances would also increase by 3 per cent a year.

The deal also flags better workload management and a requirement to display necessary nurse-to-patient ratios in each ward or unit.

The QNU, which began the pay negotiations before the change of government in March, said Queensland Health had agreed after the election to some extra measures including a $500 one-off addition to the base pay of nurses and midwives at the agreement's end in 2015.

Nurses would also secure a 3 per cent annual increase in the professional development allowance and, from April 1, 2013, the Sunday night-shift penalty rate would rise from 20 to 25 per cent.

QNU secretary Beth Mohle said the union would focus on making sure workloads were managed properly in the current climate in which the state government was looking to find cost savings.

“That's going to be a really really critical process for us and that's what we're going to be concentrating on ... making sure we've got the right number of nurses to deliver safe, quality care,” she told this website.

Ms Mohle said while the union had been advised frontline health roles would be protected, it was concerned about the potential removal of support positions.

“We're monitoring that very closely,” she said.

Ms Mohle said the 3 per cent a year pay rise was not an “outlandish claim” despite the state government's focus on reining in spending.

“Our members aren't greedy; they just want a fair shake,” she said.

A spokesman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the agreement was “mutually beneficial” as it also included strong productivity outcomes.

“If the nurses have voted in favour of it then it’s fabulous news,” he said.

The spokesman said concluding the enterprising bargaining agreement for nurses had been one of Mr Springborg’s priorities upon becoming a minister.

“One of the objectives he was given on day one when he walked in the door was to resolve that issue.”

The results of the QNU ballot came on the same day Premier Campbell Newman said unions could have proposed a pay freeze if they wanted to save jobs across the Queensland public service.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensl ... 22uj4.html


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:03 am 
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Working with cancer support offered

A new resource has been launched to offer support for workers and their employers dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer Council SA said coping with a diagnosis and its impact was a complex issue faced by as many as one in six people of working age.

It said people often needed to work if they were able during their cancer treatment for financial reasons.

Cancer Council CEO Brenda Wilson said workplaces could give valuable support.

"Cancer in the workplace can present many challenges and how these challenges are approached and managed can play an important role in a person’s recovery," she said.

"Employers tend to be uncertain about how best to communicate with staff about a cancer diagnosis and how they can positively address any workload or productivity issues that may arise as a result of long periods of absence or illness."

She said the carers and family of those with cancer often faced dilemmas about their work demands.

"They also may be unaware of their rights in the workplace and feel they have no choice but to maintain their workload, while taking on extra responsibilities at home," she said.

The information resource Cancer and Work is a guide for SA employees and their workers on issues including how to discuss cancer in workplaces.

The information includes links to organisations offering support services.

"This is a resource every workplace should have on hand," Professor Wilson said.

Copies are available by calling the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 or emailing chl@cancersa.org.au.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-30/c ... section=sa


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:21 am 
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Darwin shows off e-health initiatives

The federal government has brought its national broadband network (NBN) sell to Darwin but a planned demonstration of how it will aid doctors didn't go as smoothly as hoped.

"We are having trouble," said Gus Hunter, an ear nose and throat surgeon at Royal Darwin Hospital as he tried to show off a virtual consultation.

"It was working when we tried it yesterday," he added, as he struggled to hear what his patient, about 1000 kilometres away in Nhulunbuy, was saying.

After a few minutes the technology began to work properly, and Dr Hunter successfully got a look inside the patient's ear canal and was able to rule out a middle ear infection or perforated ear drum.

Dr Hunter, who was using an existing fibre link to Nhulunbuy to undertake the consultation, praised the system.

He said virtual consultations helped him manage his workload so that when he travels to remote areas he knows the patients he has booked for surgery are able to be operated on.

Another doctor at the hospital also performed a virtual consultation for a small group gathered, and this went off without a hitch.

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the NBN would "ultimately if you look at what is happening across the world in health services, save lives".

Senator Conroy brushed off concerns that Tuesday's demonstration showed potential problems with e-health initiatives.

"You always get hiccups - your own cameras, your own microphones don't work regularly," he told reporters in Darwin.

Senator Conroy said the small glitch in the system during the demonstration involved trying to transfer the technology onto a large screen for TV cameras.

"If you saw it on the applications they use it on, it was perfectly good, reliable and consistent," he said.

The federal and NT governments have jointly announced a $20 million digital regions initiative to improve delivery of health and education services to people in 47 remote towns.

It will also help provide telehealth services to emergency rooms and resuscitation areas in NT regional hospitals.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8508533


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:37 am 
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Online medicine side effects register open to all Australians

From 1st August 2012 consumers, health professionals and industry can access online information about adverse events to medicines that have been reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) since 1971.

Announcing the new online resource the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, said the Database of Adverse Event Notifications, includes adverse event reports about prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines sold in pharmacies and supermarkets, as well as complementary medicines such as vitamins and herbal remedies.

"The Database currently contains around 251,000 reports of adverse events," Ms King said.

"These reports were made by consumers, health professionals and the regulated industry.

"This is a great advance in transparency by Australia's medicines regulator, and I expect the public and industry will welcome this information resource which will improve reporting of adverse events."

Ms King said it is important for consumers to understand that the information about adverse events to a medicine is not necessarily an indication of that medicine’s effectiveness.

"The data should not influence a person's decision to stop taking a medicine – it is simply meant to give consumers additional information that they can discuss with their healthcare professional if they have any concerns.

"All consumers should read the Consumer Medicines Information that comes with prescription or pharmacist-only medicines, before taking any medicine."

Ms King said that, for the first time, the public can search the Database by the name of a medicine to find out:

■commonly reported adverse events to a particular medicine; and
■de-identified reports about each patient, including information on other medicines they were taking and the reaction/s they experienced.

"This is a great new resource provided by the TGA to make the work of the regulator more transparent and accessible to the community and to industry," she said.

Currently, there are 28,586 medicines approved by the TGA in Australia.

The TGA relies on the public, healthcare professionals, manufacturers and suppliers to report problems with medicines or medical devices – this allows it to identify and respond to safety problems. Please visit theTGA website for information on how to report a problem.

The TGA and the New Zealand regulator, Medsafe, have worked together on the development of two publicly accessible databases that provide information on adverse events reported to each organisation. This project is part of the staged implementation of the move to becoming the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency.

http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/new ... ians/17693


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:22 am 
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Health hiring bungle sees staff left idle at new children's emergency arm of Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital

FIVE pediatric consultants and 21 nurses have been forced to spend the past two months in "simulation training" rather than helping the patients they were hired to treat.

The staff of the Prince Charles Hospital's new children's emergency department were hired in early June but construction delays and a dispute about staffing levels pushed back the department's opening date to next week.

Queensland Health insisted the nurses had been busy with "orientation" and "simulation training" as well as what it termed "meaningful experiences".

The consultants had been involved in "clinical design processes".

When it does eventually open the $45 million department will provide 20 beds.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, who will conduct an official opening ceremony today, said hiring staff early was usual practice, but the issue had been made more complex by a dispute over staffing levels and funding which he had resolved.

"But the important thing is to make sure we have got it there and got people training and organised," he said.

The hiring bungle by health bureaucrats will be highly embarrassing for the Newman Government which is sacking thousands of staff in other departments, and will draw comparisons with an episode of famed British comedy Yes Minister in which a fully staffed hospital is lauded for its efficiency because it has no patients.

The all-but-idle Prince Charles staff are in the opposite position to the remaining employees in Queensland Health's IT agency who are facing "fatigue and stress" due to their dwindling numbers.

A leaked document reveals the IT arm is in crisis because of cutbacks with the agency scrambling to prevent clinical and patient impacts.

An internal briefing note from within the Health Services Information Agency reveals it has instituted a "power down" strategy in an effort to ensure critical work in hospitals is given priority.

The note reveals staff numbers have been seriously affected.

"Our focus is to maintain existing services as best we can with no impact to clinical or patient services," the note states.

However, it said any further reduction of staff "may require further service reductions".

Together Union secretary Alex Scott said the Newman Government's cuts were now having a direct impact on sick Queenslanders because clinicians relied on computers for patient information.

"The Government's slash and burn approach is putting lives at risk," he said.

However, Mr Springborg said the department was moving away from being an IT provider.

http://www.news.com.au/national/health- ... 6441867555


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:37 am 
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At home with Carole Renouf

It's clear from the moment Carole Renouf opens the door to her Waverley terrace that she's a woman who embraces change in all its chaotic glory.

The chief executive of the National Breast Cancer Foundation only moved into the home she shares with her teenage daughter and cattle-kelpie cross rescue dog six weeks ago. Paintings and framed photographs sit propped against the walls, waiting to be hung.

As a manager your job is to make order out of chaos. The painting reminds me of that.

She's still unpacking, she says, as well as planning an overseas trip with her daughter and helping to care for various family members, not to mention overseeing one of Australia's most prominent cancer charities, which raises more than $17 million each year.

Immaculately groomed with a pink ribbon pin in the lapel of her royal-blue jacket, she points to the back wall of her living room, where a colourful abstract painting hangs over three statues of musicians playing different instruments.

''I know this will sound a little weird,'' she says of the arrangement, ''but it's a reminder to me on a daily basis that as a leader and manager, you have two jobs. As a manager your job is to make order out of chaos. The painting reminds me of that. As a leader you have to have a vision and a direction and align your people around that. That's why I have the three musicians playing their instruments underneath.''

Joining the National Breast Cancer Foundation 18 months ago after five years as the chief executive of the Garvan Research Foundation, Renouf is steering the charity through its biggest period of transition since it began in 1994.

''When it first started, it was very small, initially just run by a group of volunteers. It didn't even have staff. It grew organically very, very quickly,'' she says.

''By the time I took over it was raising about $17 million a year and had about 40 staff.

''Essentially you find with that sort of rapid growth - and this happens in any organisation - the fundamental business platforms have not kept pace. I have been very much focusing on that.''

To that end she is encouraging closer collaboration with other cancer charities, more strategic fund-raising and, perhaps most importantly, more innovative ways of investing the money raised.

''Raising funds is just one side of the business,'' she says. ''The other side is research granting. Giving out money wisely is even harder than raising it. It requires the wisdom of Solomon in many cases.''

The foundation is putting money towards infrastructure, such as data registries and tissue banks, that can be used by breast cancer researchers nationally and internationally. It is also funding translational grants, which accelerate the path from a discovery in the lab to a clinical trial.

She says the foundation is well on track to its stated goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.

''We thought long and hard about the goal because if you stick your head above the parapet with a goal like that, you can get shot down if you don't make it,'' she says.

''If you look at the last 18 years since we were set up, back then 30 per cent of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer lost their battle. Now, less than 20 years later, that percentage has been halved, really through research and then screening. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that we can reach our goal in the next 20 years. Our ultimate goal, though, is prevention, to eradicate breast cancer all together.''

With one in nine Australian women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and seven Australian women dying each day from the disease, it's an ambitious ideal, but Renouf has never been one to shy away from a challenge. As it turns out, she has been rolling with them for much of her life.

The daughter of the late diplomat Alan Renouf and his wife Emilia, Renouf was born in Egypt in 1952 and spent the next 13 years moving around the world as her father took up posts in the US, France, Belgium, Nigeria, Yugoslavia and Portugal.

She doesn't see the constant disruption as a negative, describing it as a formative part of her character.

''The longer I spend leading organisations, the more I think that my childhood was a really good training ground,'' she says.

''I got accustomed very early to dealing with change; constant and massive changes - languages, cultures, schools, friends, pets, everything. I just learnt to take it in my stride. Running organisations these days, that's what you have to do - change is the only constant.

And the better an organisation is at managing change, the more likely it is to thrive.''

She also developed a keen sense of social justice as a young woman, getting expelled from her top English boarding school, The Cheltenham Ladies College, for making a stand about the exploitation of younger girls.

''At the time, Cheltenham Ladies College had this very deeply entrenched class system, if you will, where the younger girls were essentially treated as slaves of the older girls,'' she says. ''I was a prefect and I didn't like the system. I set about trying to change it. It got me into all sorts of trouble.

''In the end I went to see the house mistress and I said I can't accept this, so I'll resign. She said, 'No prefect has ever resigned in the history of Cheltenham Ladies College.' Basically they sent me packing. I was 17.

''At that time it was the '60s and the other girls were getting expelled for having marijuana stuffed in their teddy bears, so at least I came out on the right side of the law.''

Nonetheless, her parents were mortified and told her in no uncertain terms that if she wished to attend university she would have to do it under her own steam. At the time, university scholarships were still available in Australia, so she had little choice but to leave Britain.

After finishing her degree in Australia, she embraced another lofty goal, of becoming an actor in New York.

''I left uni without much of a plan,'' she says. ''I decided I'm going to do the big thing, which was go to New York and either make it or break it.

''It was my dream. I did the usual waiting tables and working at the UN as a translator to try to make a living doing that. I set myself a goal and said if I wasn't making a living as an actor and director by the age of 30 then I'm going to give up and do something else.''

Realising that she was never going to support herself financially as an actor, she returned to Australia and worked as a teacher at a public school in the then hard-scrabble suburb of Marrickville.

''At that time it was not a well-off area,'' she says. ''It was very discouraging because you would spend 99 per cent of your time in the classroom on discipline and 1 per cent on content. I just didn't feel that I could make a difference.''

With the notion of social change in mind, she started working on HIV/AIDS programs for NSW Health, before joining the Australian Consumers' Association (now Choice) and then being offered a job at the World Wildlife Fund Australia, her first experience of raising money for charity.

Just like the painting on her living-room wall, her career has been about finding order in the chaos.

''I can see a through line,'' she says. ''It's about the same skill set: communicating, influencing, persuading and educating.''

But as is the case for many busy women in mid-life, she's juggling multiple roles. On top of a demanding job, she also has a sister with a disability and a mother who is now 90, who recently left her own home to move into residential care.

''There is not much time for any hobbies,'' she says. ''I'm lucky my work has always been my self-actualisation. It's my way of giving back but it also gives back to me.''

http://www.smh.com.au/national/at-home- ... 23m3g.html


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:20 am 
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'No risk' from LNP funding axe to breast cancer screening scheme

THE state's top doctor yesterday moved to assure Queensland women that breast cancer services would continue as normal despite changes to BreastScreen Queensland.

Jeannette Young said women would still be able to access free mammograms despite some "tinkering" to the structure of BreastScreen Queensland.

And she said bowel and cervical cancer screening programs also would be delivered as they had previously.

"I doubt whether the population out there will notice any change," Dr Young said.

Responding to community outrage at reports BreastScreen Queensland was being dismantled, Dr Young said the changes would only affect the operation of eight BreastScreen vans and the provision of relief radiographers.

She said while the State Government would fund the vans, they would be co-ordinated by 16 hospital and health districts which came into being on July 1.

Relief radiographers would also become the sole responsibility of the districts.

Dr Young said a central BreastScreen Queensland office would still be responsible for policy setting, monitoring services and setting targets.

"Women will still receive the same letter they've always received, notifying them of the importance of going and getting your breastscreen every two years," she said.

"It will come in the same way. They'll still attend exactly the same services.

"I don't believe it'll result in any change in standards."

Dr Young admitted some of the 20 people employed in BreastScreen Queensland's central office might lose their jobs, or face redeployment, under the restructuring.

"We're just going through and identifying what change the move of the radiographer pool and the BreastScreen van management will mean in that unit," she said. "There may be a need for fewer staff. That's the specifics that we're currently working through."

But Dr Young said BreastScreen Queensland's $44 million-a-year budget would continue to grow along with the population.

She said the "tinkering" with the structure of BreastScreen Queensland was part of the national health reform agenda and was under discussion well before March's change of government.

About 58 per cent of Queensland women in the target 50-69 age group receive free mammograms every two years, one of the highest rates in the country.

Dr Young said she expected Queensland would continue to "lead the nation".

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Jeff Dunn said he had been assured by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg that any changes to BreastScreen would in no way diminish or compromise the service.

"What we at the Cancer Council Queensland want are actions and activities which enhance the reach, quality and participation rates for BreastScreen," Professor Dunn said.

"We need to make sure that it continues to reach as many areas and parts of Queensland as possible."

The Cancer Council and the union representing radiographers and sonographers, United Voice, yesterday called on Queensland Health to consult with them about any future changes.

"Queensland Health haven't provided any information to United Voice ... about what its plans actually are for this service," United Voice co-ordinator Sharron Caddie said.

"If they are saying there's no intention that these services will be reduced, we wonder what the rationale is for saying that some of the centrally co-ordinated services will be doled out to the local health boards."

Dr Young said Queensland Health director-general Tony O'Connell had called for "discussion and consultation" months ago.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/nation ... 6443415459


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:30 am 
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Outcry over changes to operations of Queensland's BreastScreen service

THE State's chief health officer has moved to reassure Queensland women that plans to change the structure of Breastscreen Queensland won't affect services.

Dr Jeannette Young said today that changes which will give 16 hospital and health boards responsibility to coordinate and plan mammograms and other cancer tests would leave no patient worse off.

"Women will still receive the same letter they've always received notifying them of the importance of going and getting your breastscreen every two years. It will come in the same way,'' Dr Young said.

"They'll still attend exactly the same services. There are currently 200 sites across Queensland that women can attend to have a breastscreen and it's very important that women continue to do so.''

After community outrage today - with hundreds of couriermail.com.au reader comments urging that the BreastScreen service remain unchanged - Health Minister Lawrence Springborg also issued a statement reassuring women that access to Breastscreen Queensland services would not change.

He said the only centralised functions of BQ not already delivered by health regions were mobile breastscreening vans and relief radiographers.

"These are the functions that will be devolved to regions under the restructure,'' Mr Springborg said.

The Sunday Mail revealed today that state's hospital and health boards would be given responsibility to co-ordinate and plan mammograms and other cancer tests.

They will be given a budget to provide services and set their own priorities for patient care. Board members will include clinicians, academics, small business owners and local identities.

It means BreastScreen Queensland, which has been operating for more than 20 years and last year had a budget of almost $44 million, will no longer centrally control mobile breast screening vans or radiographer staff relief pools.

A spokesman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said services should be provided locally.

Cancer Council spokeswoman Anne Savage said the decision could compromise the effective delivery of a vital service for women.

"It is unclear whether the devolution of public health functions to hospital and health services could result in discretionary decision-making that doesn't conform to clinical guidelines and evidence-based screening practices," she said.

Breast cancer survivor Dianne Lewis, when told of the plan, had a simple message for Mr Newman: "Don't change the system that saved my life."

Today, Mrs Lewis, 50, has outlined her case in a letter to Mr Newman, whose Government plans to dismantle BreastScreen Queensland and devolve its functions to 17 new hospital and health boards.

The mother of three has penned a letter to Mr Newman.

"Please, please, please I am begging you on behalf of all Queenslanders do not make any changes...the system works how it is," she said

"I am living proof of that and by making changes you are putting peoples life's at risk."

It was BreastScreen Queensland that sent Mrs Lewis a letter in 2006 to remind her she was due for a routine check-up.

Shortly after her visit, she received a follow-up call asking her to come back. That was when the cancer was detected.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said no patient would be worse off and that mammograms were already provided in regional areas. She said patients would not notice any difference.

The head of Public Health and Social Work at Queensland University of Technology, MaryLou Fleming, said the model could fail because some health boards might not provide the same services or have the same priorities.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/quee ... 6442891276


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:15 am 
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Health Minister figures show 2000 Queensland Health staff lost jobs since LNP election win

MORE than 2000 Queensland Health staff have lost their jobs since the LNP stormed to victory in March, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg’s office has confirmed.

Official documents show 2082 temporary contract workers “separated” from the department in the three months to June 30. But 1219 of those had been reemployed as casuals, while another 150 training resident medical officers were sacked or quit.

Mr Springborg today said Queensland Health was “going through a period of change” but refused to say how many more jobs would go.

He said the major restructure, including the mass decentralisation of services, would target the bloated corporate office which needed to “lean down”.

Figures on job losses would be made available as decisions were made, he said.

“I don’t think anyone should be surprised,” he said.

“The previous Labor government took between 800 and 900 positions out of corporate office and what we will be doing through our restructuring is further addressing the issues as we move towards unashamedly advantaging the frontline service delivery of our organisation."

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/nation ... 6446629590


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:44 am 
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Dementia ninth 'health priority area'

AUSTRALIA has a new national health priority area - dementia.

The first priority areas, set down in 1996, were cardiovascular health, cancer control, injury prevention and control, and mental health.

Diabetes was added in 1997, followed by asthma in 1999, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions in 2002 and obesity in 2008.

Now, in 2012, dementia has been added to the list following a meeting of federal and state health ministers in Sydney.

That takes the number of priority areas to nine.

"This will focus attention and drive collaborative efforts aimed at tackling dementia at national, state and territory and local government levels," the ministers said in a joint statement on Friday.

About 280,000 Australians have dementia today, but that figure is expected to reach one million by 2050.

Ten years after that, spending on the disease is set to outstrip the outlay on any other health condition.

"We expect dementia spending to top $80 billion by 2062/63," federal Ageing Minister Mark Butler said in a statement on Friday.

"But early diagnosis has been shown to have significant potential benefits for both the person with dementia and their carers and family, including improvements to quality of life and reducing care burden."

Experts believe the number of sufferers could be significantly reduced by tackling risk factors such as physical inactivity, poor diet, alcohol misuse, smoking and excessive body weight.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaki ... 6447819258


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:00 am 
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Patients reject eHealth

Only 5029 people have joined the federal government's controversial $466 million eHealth system since it was launched on July 1.

Figures obtained from the Department of Health and Ageing show that each individual to take up the personally controlled electronic health record system has so far cost the government $92,662.

Patients can volunteer to join the system, which stores all their health information, including test results and prescriptions, in a national database. It is the first time patients will be able to access their medical details.

The Coalition's eHealth spokesman, Andrew Southcott, compared the slow adoption to the government's problems with the Building the Education Revolution program and pink batts installation.

''The government's own target and benchmark was 500,000 sign-ups in the first year,'' he said.

''At the current rate, if they maintain this pace they will get approximately 60,000 so well short of the 500,000 and they are anticipating 6.8 million within four years.

''The low take-up shows that doctors and patients don't see it as being of much value at this point in time. This is the government that brought us school halls [BER refurbishment] and pink batts and lost control of our borders.''

Dr Southcott said the Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, was avoiding talking about the scheme.

''The government doesn't want to be associated with another disaster,'' he said. ''They championed it before the last election but they don't really seem to have a lot of enthusiasm for it now.''

A spokesman for Ms Plibersek said the service's introduction was a ''marathon, not a sprint''.

''That's the sensible way to deliver this significant reform,'' he said.

The Department of Health and Ageing said the implementation of eHealth was always going to be a staged process. ''We are delighted that without any fanfare or publicity that so many Australians have already registered, and a constant daily growth in registrations, the vast majority online,'' a spokeswoman said.

The Australian Medical Association's national president Steve Hambleton said the sign-up figures were evidence the government should have made inclusion in the eHealth system automatic and let patients choose to ''opt out''.

Dr Hambleton said the medical profession supported a one-stop source of medical information, but a critical mass of people was needed for it to function properly.

''There is no health information on the system yet anyway and GPs, for example, still haven't got software in their computers that lets them talk to the system.''

Of the 5029 registered so far 89 per cent of them had registered online while the remainder registered by phone, in writing or in person at a Medicare shopfront.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/p ... z23GmZ6Kzn


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:14 am 
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Health ministers blame carbon tax

Health ministers from NSW, Victoria and Queensland say the carbon tax will cost their health systems millions of dollars a year.

On Friday, health ministers from NSW, Queensland and Victoria meeting in Sydney said the carbon tax would drive up the costs of running their health care systems.

NSW Health minister Jillian Skinner said the carbon tax would add up to $50 million per year to costs, as high electricity prices impacted on hospital bottom lines.

'That could buy us something like 500 nurses and many more services,' she told reporters in Sydney.

She said the NSW government would be looking to the Commonwealth to cover the extra health care costs incurred because of the carbon tax.

Victoria's health minister David Davis said state modelling showed more than $13 million in new health system costs were 'directly attributable to the carbon tax'.

He said Victoria would have to meet the extra cost by itself because, unlike the GST, health was not exempted from the carbon tax, which took effect on July 1.

Queensland LNP health minister Lawrence Springborg said his government would have to find an extra $30 million every year to cover power price rises from the carbon tax.

That included an extra $361,000 to fund the state's flying doctor service as a result of the tax.

'This is a cost on being sick,' he said.

'It's a cost and tax on new hospital beds in Queensland.'

Mr Abbott has blamed the carbon tax as the sole cause of electricity price rises, a claim that has been contradicted by coalition energy spokesman Ian McFarlane .

http://bigpondnews.com/articles/TopStor ... 82193.html


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:46 am 
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LETTERS: Untold cost of job cuts

SO 4000 health workers are now to get the axe (C-M, Aug 13)?

With staff cuts of this magnitude, it's simply not believable that healthcare in Queensland (already under strain in meeting current needs) will be able to sustain such cuts without seriously affecting us all.

The finding that it is necessary for 20,000 state public servants to lose their jobs, should surely now be questioned by an independent group of career economists.

Experience in Greece and elsewhere in Europe has indicated job cuts are counterproductive, and simply do not meet claimed savings due to the many uncosted losses which result - e.g. tax revenue losses, the inevitable and considerable cost of sustaining unemployment payments, home loan defaults, loss of retail sales, losses in efficiencies and in services etc.

Already, with job losses, many Brisbane central business district carparks are empty and retailers closing.

It is easy to produce a report advocating and costing apparent salary savings from job losses, but where is the report which shows the whole picture - a report which shows costs of the full after-effects of such changes, plus the added costs and inefficiencies in the organisation's delivery of services (or costs of lack of services) concerned to the public?

Bruce Scott-Hill, Daisy Hill

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WELL, that will be a smart move, won't it - don't cut frontline staff but positions in preventative health.

Sure, we'll get the Budget back into balance sooner but, down the track, the costs to Queensland Health will blow out as diseases start to rise due to preventative health cuts.

But that will be back to Labor's problem.

It's just part of the political cycle after all.

Marie Connelly, Coorparoo

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SURELY one of the signs of an advanced society is its capacity to prevent social and health problems.

Is any form of (social, health and economic) cost/benefit analysis being undertaken before these programs are cut and staff are fired?

Can't we, for once, have a state government that cares about ALL its citizens while managing a budget?

Linda Tilley, Jimboomba

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HONESTLY, don't you realise it's a clever ploy to make heaps of tourist dollars?

Can you imagine how much money tourists will spend to catch a glimpse, maybe take a photo even, of that extremely rare species, the Queensland state public servant?

Something is "killing them off" so that they have now become a rare and threatened species.

Why, there will probably be many documentaries made before they disappear completely and are replaced by the growing "politicus childus" and "matus" species.

Albert Gagno, Richlands

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opin ... 6449543682


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:24 am 
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Extra 25,000 public servants in scope for job cuts after Newman Government redefines frontline staff

CAMPBELL Newman can’t say when frontline public sector workers abruptly reclassified as pen-pushers, and now possibly in line to be sacked, will be told of the change.

The Premier this afternoon defended his Government’s decision to change the decade-old definition of “frontline” and declare 25,000 more staff non-frontline.

The move, revealed by The Courier-Mail this morning, puts the workers in the scope for job cuts as only those on the frontline have been guaranteed their positions are safe.

Mr Newman said he “didn’t know” if those affected had been personally notified but denied the news would add to fear levels within the state’s public service.

“I know people are very concerned. I don’t think that changed today,” he said.

"The issue of classification is merely an administrative thing and also lines us up with the ABS classifications of jobs.

"We don't want to see cuts on the frontline.”

Mr Newman said the Government’s 20,000 jobs cut target remained unchanged, adding decisions on future sackings were “well advanced” and there were unlikely to be "too many surprises".

He insisted he had been upfront about the changes, amid union claims the reclassification was designed to provide the Government with “political cover” to publicly declare it was sacking only pen pushers, even though some workers may have been considered frontline just weeks ago.

“I tried to give everyone a very strong signal, an upfront signal two months ago – maybe some people missed it – where I said in the parliament on a number of occasions that we had 20,000 more people than we could afford to pay,” he said.

“How more upfront and straight up and down can you be with Queenslanders and the public service?”

After promising to protect those on the front line, the Government has tinkered with a long-standing definition and classified 12 per cent more workers as pen-pushers as it continues to slash thousands of "backroom" jobs.

Only workers who spend at least three-quarters of their time directly interacting with the public, either face-to-face or on the phone, are now safe from the cost-cutting regime. Their managers are also protected.

The previous definition classified frontline workers as those who spent "the majority of their time" serving the public.

Public sector union Together denounced the change as "political spin" used to justify deeper cuts that would hurt services.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said "shifting the goal posts" would impact key workers such as train drivers, firefighters and court reporting staff, who may not pass the new 75 per cent test.

But Minister Assisting the Premier Glen Elmes insisted reclassification did not automatically mean workers were "expendable", as each department would assess its own programs and spending on a case-by-case basis.

The major audit, ordered by the Newman Government in June and finalised this month, ruled 65,025 workers were non-frontline, or 32 per cent of the overall 204,400-strong public sector.

That compares with 2010, the only recent figures available, when 40,561 - or 20 per cent - of the state's 200,002 workers were classified non-frontline.

Almost four in five (7153) workers are now classified non-frontline within Transport and Main Roads, where the Government plans to axe almost 2000 jobs.

In Queensland Health, the number of non-frontline workers has almost doubled to 17,414.

That will likely ease the LNP's attempts to slice up to 4000 employees from the troubled department, including from areas such as preventative health.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg yesterday would not comment on specific target numbers, however he insisted the number of job losses would be "significantly less" if the Government had not been forced to find an extra $150 million to prop up Labor's Health payroll bungle.

"That is equivalent to 2500 nurses at $60,000 each," he told The Courier-Mail.

"And the carbon tax component that I have also got to find . . . is equivalent to another 500 nurses at $60,000 each.

"So this is what we are actually fighting against."

Senior project officer Phil Carswell, who has worked with Queensland Health for 17 years but now fears for his job, said axing preventative health programs would have a negative flow-on effect to hospitals within a decade.

"We've got to get away from this notion that health is just about what happens in hospitals; we've got to keep people healthy so they stay out of hospitals," he said.

Together union secretary Alex Scott said axing support staff would divert others from frontline work.

"We will see frontline staff spending more and more time doing paperwork for head office," he said.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/nation ... 6449590924


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