Friday, November 06, 2009

Woman forced to wait six-hours in public hospital emergency department after suffering suspected miscarriage

A WOMAN who presented at Geelong Hospital on Sunday after a suspected miscarriage was forced to wait six hours in emergency before being told her case was not serious enough to receive an ultrasound. The young couple last night told the Geelong Advertiser how they endured a frustrating day agonising over whether their first child was still alive as they waited in a crowded waiting room for medical attention.

Pregnant Jess, not her real name, was eventually seen late in the afternoon, but was told only urgent cases with a serious health risk were entitled to ultrasounds on weekends. Instead, Jess received a blood test, followed by a secondary blood test on Tuesday, revealing she had suffered a miscarriage.

Husband Rob, also not his real name, said they should have been told they were not eligible for an ultrasound upon arrival, saving his suffering wife six hours of languishing in a waiting room.

Barwon Health spokesperson Kate Nelson said all patients were categorised using the five triage categories identified by the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine. "Unfortunately, at times of high demand, which it was on this occasion, patients with a triage category of four may experience extended waiting times or stays in a cubicle," she said in a written statement.


Australian Govt policy 'benefits people smugglers'

Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has accused the government of outsourcing its immigration program to people smugglers as 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers continue to refuse to leave an Australian customs vessel.

Australia has been trying for almost two weeks to convince the ethnic Tamils to voluntarily leave the Oceanic Viking and enter the Tanjung Pinang Detention Centre on the Indonesian island of Bintan. Security clearance for the vessel to remain in Indonesia expires on Friday night and it is not yet known whether Indonesia will grant another extension.

Mr Turnbull said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's changes to the previous government's asylum-seeker policy had resulted in a system that benefited people smugglers. "He made those changes and what do we have? Thousands, 2,000, unauthorised arrivals, a surge in people smuggling. Our immigration program is being outsourced to the people smugglers," Mr Turnbull told ABC Radio on Friday.

He said he was reluctant to give advice about the current situation on which he was not fully briefed, but said his party had a clear policy on border protection. "If we have an election next year and I win and become the next prime minister, our border protection policies will be tougher and we will over time once again, as we have before, eliminate people smugglers," he said.


Student beats the Tax Office

Succeeds in claiming education expenses

UNIVERSITY undergraduates will be able to claim educational expenses as a tax deduction after a former student had a landmark win in the full Federal Court yesterday. Symone Anstis, a former Australian Catholic University student, was successful in her bid to claim $920 as self-education expenses after fighting the Taxation Office through a number of jurisdictions over three years.

While studying full-time to be a primary teacher, Ms Anstis worked as a part-time sales assistant for retail chain Katies, where she earned $14,946. She also received a youth allowance of $3622 during the 2006 income year. She claimed education expenses including travel costs, supplies for children during teaching rounds, student administration fees and depreciation of her computer.

The Tax Office rejected the claim, so Ms Anstis and her father, Michael, who is a qualified solicitor but does not work as a lawyer, fought it all the way to the hearing in Melbourne yesterday. The full court of the Federal Court upheld an earlier decision that because the former student had to be enrolled in a full-time course of study to get her assessable income of Youth Allowance, any costs incurred in the course of studying should be deductible.

''I am very happy with the outcome; my Dad did a very good job,'' she said. ''When you are a student everything makes a difference, every little bit helps. I think I will be able to get $300 back. I have been waiting a long time but it will go pretty quickly.''

Tax experts say hundreds of thousands of university students who receive Youth Allowance could benefit from the ruling, but they will need to generate a taxable income above $15,000. About 440,000 students receive Youth Allowance or Austudy. Many of these students would earn enough with the addition of part-time work to have a tax liability, according to Asssociate Professor Dale Boccabella from the University of NSW.

He said items including computer depreciation, stationery or textbooks could now be claimed as a deduction. In the past, the Taxation Office had made it clear it would not allow educational expenses to be claimed against welfare payments. "The decision further complicates tax administration in the area of self-education expenses, an area that is already riddled with difficulties," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Tax Office said the decision was being assessed.


Killers, rapists and other criminally insane patients walking streets of Melbourne

KILLERS, rapists and other criminally insane patients are walking the streets of Melbourne on outings to the movies, fishing and shopping. The controversial leave pass program at the Thomas Embling Hospital was hastily shut down after inmate Peko Lakovski allegedly committed a gruesome double murder with a carving knife. Lakovski was considered a low security risk and allowed out on day leave.

Almost a third of the inmates at the 118-bed facility in Fairfield have been approved for unescorted leave in the past year. The hospital sanctioned 8900 leave passes in 2008-09, most of them supervised trips for court and medical reasons. The hospital houses mentally ill patients including some offenders referred from the criminal justice system. Inmates include killers, sex offenders, arsonists and even a man who attempted to hijack a commercial plane. But the system allows the inmates to graduate from supervised walks within the grounds to unescorted visits to public locations.

A 2003 report said on a given day more than a dozen inmates are walking the streets near the hospital.

Embattled Minister for Mental Health Lisa Neville was forced to order a snap review of the hospital's internal processes after admitting that "something has gone wrong in this particular case". Ms Neville could not explain how patients in a secure psychiatric hospital, many of whom have killed before and are suffering with schizophrenia, had access to knives. Ms Neville has overseen a series of major departmental bungles in recent months including the shocking incest case with a man accused of fathering children with his daughter over a 30-year period.

The day leave program at Thomas Embling Hospital was cancelled after the alleged rampage left two people dead. The frenzied attacks were sparked by an argument between two room-mates and fishing buddies. Lakovski, 59 is facing charges of fatally stabbing Paul Notas, 36, and Raymond Splatt, 54. Police will allege Lakovski went on a stabbing rampage with a carving knife about 11pm on Wednesday in a low-security residential area of the hospital after getting into an argument with Splatt. It was alleged he then went to another room and repeatedly stabbed Notas.

The Department of Human Services increased security at the site in January but arrangements are again under review.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the "safety and security" of the community must be put ahead of the rehabilitation of patients.

Since the hospital opened in 2000, at least three inmates have escaped with a further 15 absconding while on day leave. Escapes by killers Neville Garden and Robert Debruyn while on the leave sparked major manhunts. Others on day release to escape include sex offender Sean Broaders and Peter John Evans, who both slipped their minders at the Austin Hospital.

A hospital insider told the Herald Sun in 2007 that David Mark Robinson, who tried to hijack a Qantas jet in May 2003, walked out of the hospital without minders. Robinson was armed with sharpened wooden stakes, a cigarette lighter and aerosol cans to use as flame-throwers when he threatened staff on the Melbourne-Launceston flight. A cabin manager and flight attendant thwarted his attempt to kill all 56 passengers.

There has been a significant increase in inmates applying for leave in the past decade.

The report into Wednesday night's rampage is expected to focus on the decision to allow Lakovski to move into Jardine Unit, which has the lowest level of security in the facility. Victoria's chief psychiatrist, Ruth Vine, admitted the leave assessment process was "not a perfect science" as it involved factors with regard to the patient and the community. All of the patients in the Jardine Unit are under active consideration for release. Dr Vine said patients must undergo a clinical assessment before they are moved to the unit, which has no security camera and allows patients access to kitchen knives.


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