July, 2015

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Private health & private hospitals: how does the new landscape look for patients & equity?

, Jul 22, 2015

(Updated 23 July to add Medibank response). Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler today issued a stern warning over “more aggressive” negotiations emerging between private health insurers and funds in Australia, demonstrated by the dispute on rates and quality of services between Calvary Hospital Group and health insurer Medibank Private. Owler was particularly concerned over […]
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Making the case for registration of naturopaths

, Jul 15, 2015

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Should naturopaths be registered? It’s a controversial debate that’s hit the headlines again recently, following the near-death of a baby in Sydney. Dr Jon Wardle, from the Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney, who has been taking plenty of media calls on this question, argues below that […]

A call for clarity in policy around drugs known as “biosimilars”

, Jun 22, 2015

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and the Therapeutic Goods Administration have been urged to clarify their policies around “biosimilars” – drugs which act in the same way as patented biological drugs, although they may not be exactly the same. Dr Ruth Lopert, who was the TGA’s Principal Medical Adviser from 2008-2011 and Director of the […]

Prof Andrew Wilson announced as new Chair for Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC)

, May 22, 2015

(Note from Melissa Sweet on 24 May: See bottom of post for a comment by Professor Andrew Wilson on his appointment). Health Minister Sussan Ley today announced the appointment of Professor Andrew Wilson as the new Chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), the independent expert body whose primary role is to recommend new […]
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‘The Coal Face’: fateful decisions & more questions on the ongoing public health crisis of the Hazelwood coal mine fire

, Apr 29, 2015

The Coal Face by Melbourne journalist and author Tom Doig is a compelling read about the 2104 Hazelwood coalmine fire, which began on 9 February 2014 and burned for 45 days, sending smoke and ash over the town of Morwell in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. The book is short and sharp, and details fateful decisions made […]
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Lessons from a social media stoush

, Apr 20, 2015

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Many thanks to  Wendy Oakes, Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager, Heart Foundation NSW for this insight into using social media for public health advocacy. Wendy writes: Mentioning e-cigarettes on any public platform  can be a daunting experience. While social media is a potential tool for public health advocacy  the reality is that in the area […]

Vending machines – exercising your choice?

, Apr 06, 2015

Many thanks to Dr Melissa Stoneham and the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia for this latest instalment of Journal Watch. *** Melissa Stoneham writes: Vending machines – they are certainly versatile. You can get almost anything in them today. In Perth and Adelaide right now, 4 hot chip vending machines are being trialled. In […]

BMJ publishes ‘clusterbomb’ of evidence on benefits of tobacco plain packaging, but fight with companies ‘far from over’

, Mar 19, 2015

The British Medical Journal today published the findings of a series of studies in a special Tobacco Control supplement showing that Australia’s plain packaging laws are delivering on their promise. Cancer Council Victoria’s Professor Melanie Wakefield, whose team led the evaluation, said research shows plain packaging reduced positive perceptions of cigarette packs among teenagers and […]
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Your health in their hands: time for a zero tolerance approach to hospital hand-washing?

, Mar 17, 2015

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The latest statistics (see above, from Hand Hygiene Australia) show that doctors in Australian hospitals comply with hand washing requirements less than 70 per cent of the time. In the post below, ACT MP and former dentist Dr Chris Bourke asks whether or not it’s time we adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ approach on failure to […]
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Health policy reform: principles for reform & how to get there

, Feb 10, 2015

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It’s hard to pick where health policy will go now under the Federal Government, with a new Minister and the likely shift (mark 3?) on a GP co-payment – if not because they accept the evidence against it but because of the politics. But there was an interesting intervention in the lead up to this […]

Concern over Medicare changes that will restrict patients’ access to Aboriginal Health Workers

, Jan 18, 2015

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While the Federal Government’s determination to introduce a copayment for general practice consultations has been dominating headlines, a recent change to the Medicare Benefits Schedule is causing great concern for services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Louise Lyons, Acting CEO of  the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), says the change undermines the […]

Tired, sluggish, bloated? Time to detox? “Don’t buy the hype”

, Jan 07, 2015

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Thanks to Loretta Marron OAM, CEO of Friends of Science in Medicine for this very timely post. *** Loretta Marron writes: Feeling tired, sluggish and bloated? Recycling bin rattling with empty bottles & cans? Belt a bit tight? What about  that New Year’s Resolution to live healthier this year? This might be the perfect time […]
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Australia’s first Physician Assistant graduates hold promise to better health care access

, Dec 17, 2014

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Today has been a landmark day in Australian health, particularly for rural and regional areas, with the country’s first graduation of a cohort of bachelor degree trained physician assistants from James Cook University. Croakey has published a number of reports – see this one and the links below – on the benefits of physician assistants, and the […]
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Federation reform: issues raised in the Health Issues Paper

, Dec 15, 2014

The Federal Government last week released, with little fanfare, the Issues Paper on Health to inform the White Paper on the Reform of the Federation. See the media release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and this snapshot of the “threshold questions” to be addressed. In response, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association today released a […]
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#VicVotes: So many health promises, so little vision

, Nov 26, 2014

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Victorian voters may be swimming in health promises – but these offer little vision of a more integrated health system that better serves people with chronic illness, according to Dr Christine Walker, who heads the Chronic Illness Alliance. This is the first in a Croakey mini-series examining health and the Victorian election. *** Christine Walker […]
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Antibiotic Awareness Week: On the path to least resistance

, Nov 18, 2014

This post below from Professor John Turnidge,  Senior Medical Advisor at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, marks Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov 17-23). It outlines how the Commission’s release of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard is another significant step along the path to ‘least antibiotic resistance’, but reports also on […]
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Big Food, public health and sharing a table: food for thought or empty nutrients?

, Nov 17, 2014

Just how much should public health engage with Big Food to tackle obesity?  Canadian health research leader Professor Diane Finegood, CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research,  led an initiative that provided “safe” (or private) spaces for Big Food to talk to public health – and says the results were surprising. Delivering the keynote […]

Why aren’t paramedics registered?

, Nov 07, 2014

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Ruth Townsend writes in this post below that if  you completed a first aid course last weekend then you could call yourself a paramedic. She asks how the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council can justify its decision last month to defer the inclusion of paramedics on the Australian Health Practitioner register, a move that has […]

The demise of the ANPHA: why it will be ‘drinks all round’ for the alcohol industry and others

, Sep 01, 2014

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A recent seminar at the University of Sydney examined the legacy of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) in an event also billed by some as “a wake for preventive health”. In the article below, Stephen Leeder, Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Sydney and Editor-in-Chief of The […]
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Is it time to revisit pharmacy ownership?

, Aug 26, 2014

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With the Government desperately trying to revive a co-payment policy that has been declared DOA by Senate balance-of-power holder Clive Palmer, attention is turning to other areas of health financing that could deliver Budget savings.  A senior health policy analyst and regular Croakey contributor who writes under the name of “William Foggin” has provided the […]