Thursday, March 12, 2009

The notorious Royal North Shore Hospital again

It may be one of the best trauma centres in Australia but patients at Royal North Shore Hospital have to bring their own soap. Nurses at the hospital have revealed cash flow problems have caused the Intensive Care Unit to run out of basic hygiene supplies.

The State Government ordered a review of the $1 billion redevelopment after surgeons said operating theatres were too small. As of December 2008, the Northern Sydney and Central Coast Area Health Service, Royal North Shore Hospital, owed $25.8 million on a total 11,214 bills. A nurse, who did not want to be identified, said colleagues in ICU had bought soap last month because stores had run out. "They had to personally buy soap to wash the patient," the source said. "They ran out of toothpaste for three weeks, which is of real concern for intubated patients."

Head of RNS trauma unit and chair of the medical staff council Tony Joseph said he knew of suppliers who had not been paid. "I haven't personally heard of staff buying soap but I know that some suppliers have stopped medical equipment," he said.

Clinicians revealed six operating theatres will be too small to carry out complex surgery. Health Minister John Della Bosca has ordered a review after the Telegraph revealed they will be unable to perform trauma, cardiac, spinal or cancer surgery. NSW Infrastructure Co-ordinator General Bob Leece will review the project.


Melbourne traffic controller too friendly

This is the sort of stupidity you expect of safety-deranged Britain

A council efended its decision to ban a Deer Park North school crossing supervisor from high-fiving students and parents. Lollipop man Charlie Cremona has welcomed the children of Deer Park North Primary School in Melbourne's west for the past 18 years. After standing in the sun, rain and wind twice daily for all those years, he was stunned when told recently he must stop "high-fiving" students and parents on his Hovell St crossing.

But Brimbank city development general manager Peter Collina said the ban was in response to a parent's complaint about "a number of concerns, including that of physical contact with the children". "Council has investigated the complaint and observed the supervisor's behaviour and found that a number of his actions all potentially distracted him from his responsibility to keep the crossing safe," Mr Collina said.

Mr Cremona said the friendly interaction with the community was one of the bonuses of the job, in which he helps 130 children over the crossing each day. The grandfather-to-be estimated 80 per cent of his group would slap a quick high five along the way.

School principal Joe Vella said Mr Cremona was a "terrific" supervisor with "a heart of gold". Mr Vella said the ban on high fives took away the human element of the job. "For what (crossing supervisors) put up with they probably deserve more respect,'' Mr Vella said.

A Facebook group, "Support Charlie the lollipop legend and bring back the high five", has been set up to push the council to repeal its ban. But Mr Collina said while high-fiving "may appear innocent enough, it should be limited to times when children are not being assisted to cross the road". "Council realises that establishing a rapport with the parents and children is important and encourages all school crossing supervisors to do so,'' Mr Collina said in a statement. "However, the safety of the children is the primary purpose of Mr Cremona's duties and it is vitally important that he gives his full attention to his duties, especially while children are on the crossing. Any distraction from his attention to all of the children on the crossing - and the traffic at or approaching the crossing - will potentially place the children at risk."

Mr Cremona said he felt self-conscious and embarrassed as children were instructed not to slap hands any more. "One little girl, a little three-year-old with her mother started crying when I told her I couldn't high-five any more - she didn't understand," Mr Cremona said. Grade 6 student Jessica was visibly upset and confused by the ban when the Leader visited last week. "I don't know what's wrong with it, everyone used to give him high fives, he's been doing it for ages," she said.

Local mothers and former students Nicole Sierzputowksi and Beth Neville said the ban was "pathetic" and "stupid". Ms Neville said Mr Cremona's friendly style encouraged the children to "do the right thing" and use the crossing safely. "I've never seen it run so smoothly," Ms Sierzputowksi said. The pair are petitioning to "Bring back Mr Cremona's high fives" and have 400 signatures so far. Mr Collina said the council had received public responses both in favour of and against its ban.


Climate concerns fading as economy dives

Concern about climate change is slipping away as the economic crisis continues to bite, a poll shows. The proportion of people concerned about climate change has fallen from 90 per cent two years ago to 73 per cent, the poll found. While worries about global warming fade, anxiety about job security and falling asset prices is very high, the poll of 1,000 people found.

It also found the federal government faces an uphill battle in selling its emissions trading scheme, its main weapon in the fight against climate change. More than a third of those surveyed had not even heard of it, and fewer than one in 10 said they had a good understanding of the scheme. Just under half of the respondents, 49 per cent, said they had no understanding of emissions trading.

The poll was conducted in February by strategic consultancy firm Mobium Group.


Success of cancer trial means a new front-line treatment

A MELBOURNE cancer breakthrough may allow patients' immune systems to beat previously untreatable ovarian and other tumours. The breakthrough could potentially save hundreds of Australian lives each year.

Advanced testing of the radical "immune modulation" treatment began this week and will see 20 Melbourne ovarian cancer patients given only a single chemotherapy pill a day in cycles to try to beat the disease that otherwise kills four out of five patients within five years. The trial by the Women's Cancer Foundation and Monash University aims to remove cells that prevent a patient's immune system from overcoming the cancer. After identifying the group of cells inhibiting the immune system, the scientists tracked the cells' life cycle and found they were created by the immune system every 10 to 14 days.

Foundation board member Prof Michael Quinn said that by using just a single daily chemotherapy pill during the three days when the cycle begins, the cells could be killed to give the immune system a free run at beating the cancer. "The great thing about this is that if it works, we can use it for virtually every solid tumour," he said. "It could be for bowel cancer, lung cancer, soft-tissue cancers, and that is the really attractive thing about this, that it can be translated to other tumours. "Everything we have got today clinically and in the laboratory has been very encouraging, so everything backs this up and there is definitely something in this."

In the latest trial, blood samples are taken from patients every second day to measure levels of the inhibitor, and when the levels rise in the cycle, tablets of a low-dose chemotherapy drug are taken for three days.

Prof Quinn said the Melbourne team would know within 18 months if the treatment was successful as a front-line treatment for tumours. To raise the $150,000 needed to undertake the final stage trial, the Women's Cancer Foundation is holding the We Can Walk It Out walk and fun run at The Tan from 10am on Sunday.


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