Sunday, July 25, 2010

Australia's conservative coalition plans to slash immigration

Australia's immigration levels are unsustainable and will be slashed under a coalition government, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says. The coalition would cut the annual migrant intake from the current level of 300,000 to 170,000 in its first term of government, he said. "Three hundred thousand is just not sustainable," Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

The plan was separate from the asylum seeker issue. Mr Abbott said skilled migration programs would continue. "We will maintain, though, various employer-nominated categories because it's important that business has the skills as a people that it needs," he said.

Mr Abbott, who was born in London in 1957, said he was a migrant himself. "The coalition parties are pro-immigrant parties but it's very important that our immigration program has the support of our people and that is what this policy is designed to do."

Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said a coalition government would restore migration growth to the long-run average of 1.4 per cent, down from the two per cent now and slightly higher than the global average of 1.2 per cent. Cutting the intake would preserve the quality of life for future generations of Australians, he said.

"That was the fundamental dishonesty of the prime minister last week," he said. "If she doesn't like our number, she should say so. If she thinks our number is too low or too high, she should say what her number is."

Asked what a coalition government would consider as an acceptable population level for Australia, Mr Abbott said it would be "a lot lower" than the 36 million by 2050 figure nominated by former prime minister Kevin Rudd. "We would be guided, not ruled, by a white paper which we would commission shortly after coming to government, which would inform decisions that would be announced at some time next year."

Mr Abbott said a coalition government would take advice from a productivity and sustainability commission about the compatibility of population levels with economic and environmental sustainability. "But it will always be the government responsibility to set the number," he said.

The opposition leader said Prime Minister Julia Gillard was keen to talk about population but not be honest about the role of immigration in the debate. "You cannot have a population discussion without also having an immigration discussion," he said.

Mr Abbott challenged Ms Gillard to nominate an alternative figure if Labor did not agree with the coalition's intake target.

Economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel has said annual net migration from overseas - which includes permanent migration and longer-term but temporary stays - will fall from 298,900 over the year to June 2009 to 240,000 over the year to June 2010, then to 175,000 in 2010-11 and 145,000 in 2011-12. BIS Shrapnel said the slowdown reflected a slackening in the job market and fewer enrolments by foreign students.

Mr Abbott said he was "all in favour" of Australia selling education to overseas students. "But what I don't want us to be doing is selling immigration outcomes in the guise of selling education," he said.


Child sex accused priest OK to work with kids??

Your regulators will protect you -- NOT

A PRIEST stood down by his church over allegations that he had sex with a teenage boy has been handed a blue card to work with children by a Queensland tribunal.

The man, now in his 50s, lost his licence to officiate as a priest when he was found unfit to hold Holy Orders, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal was told during an application hearing last month.

It was alleged that the priest, then a parish curate in his 20s, had sex with a boy aged from 16 to 18 on several occasions, showed him pornographic images and took him to a sex shop.

The Sunday Mail has been prevented from identifying the priest after his solicitors sought a non-publication order from the tribunal late Friday.

The case follows revelations last week that seven Queenslanders denied blue cards because of criminal convictions later won them back after appeals to the tribunal.

The tribunal heard that the boy had been a parishioner and his parents had left him in the care of the priest while they went overseas on a holiday. Some of the sexual acts allegedly occurred when the priest stayed with the boy at a motel and at a caravan park. Police investigated after a complaint was received, but no charges were laid, the tribunal was told.

However, after a recent church investigation into the allegations ruled that "sexually inappropriate behaviour" had occurred, the Board of Professional Standards decided he was not fit to hold Holy Orders due to the gravity of the breach of trust. The Commissioner for Children and Young People then cancelled his blue card.

The priest is entitled to an automatic review of the church decision, which is under way, but he has not been able to officiate in his former parish.

He had held a blue card, allowing him to work or volunteer with children, since 2007.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which heard the former priest's appeal over his blue card, said the allegations were not contested in the church proceedings.

A forensic psychiatrist, giving evidence to the tribunal, said that there had been no indication of deviance since the time of the allegations and the priest was not a risk to the community.

He said assuming the alleged events had occurred, "it was likely to be an experimentation of early adulthood, part of the 'craziness of the age group' ".

After hearing evidence from another priest and parishioners, the tribunal found, on balance of probabilities, there was not an unacceptable risk of harm to children and ordered that the priest be given a blue card.

It found the protective factors, including that over the past 28 years he had led an "exemplary life of altruism and service", outweighed the risks. The Children's Commissioner can appeal.



Four reports below -- from just two days!

Killer overseas doctor sentenced to seven years in jail

FORMER Bundaberg Base Hospital surgeon Jayant Patel has been sentenced to seven years in jail for the deaths of three patients.

He was also sentenced to three years jail, to be served concurrently, for causing grievous bodily harm to a fourth patient.

Patel was not declared a serious violent offender and will be eligible to apply for parole in three-and-a-half years.

Justice John Byrne this afternoon sentenced Patel after the disgraced doctor was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and one of grievous bodily harm. On Tuesday Patel was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter and one of grievous bodily harm as a result of operations he performed at Bundaberg between 2003 and 2005.

The jury had deliberated for six-and-a-half days and a further 48 hours before delivering guilty verdicts to the manslaughter of Gerry Kemps, 77, James Phillips, 46, and Mervyn Morris, 75. It also found Patel had caused grievous bodily harm to Ian Rodney Vowles, 62.

Kemps and Phillips died after oesophagectomy operations while Morris died after a major operation on his colon. Vowles allegedly had a large part of his bowel wrongly removed.

Mr Martin gave an outline of Patel's background as a doctor in India and then the USA where he eventually lost the right to practise in New York and then was put under a stipulated order in Portland, Oregon.


Dodgy doctors in government hospitals still

ROGUE doctors have been caught working throughout the state without proper paperwork and their own insurance as Queensland Health continues to struggle to put the Jayant Patel scandal behind it.

The Sunday Mail can reveal some medical officers and general practitioners were recently busted for failing to obtain credentialling to work at hospitals in the state.

Credentialling is an administrative system different to registration that allows travelling doctors to move around the state with authority to do different types of work at different hospitals.

A briefing provided to Health Minister Paul Lucas after the first quarter of this year showed two doctors were also caught without the proper registration.

The briefing showed 20 people failed to have the correct credentialling, including 15 general practitioners working at an aged care home in Brisbane. They did not have the proper indemnity insurance. A further two medical officers were caught on the Darling Downs, one in Townsville, one each in the Metropolitan North and South districts, and one in the South West district.

"In all cases no harm is reported to have occurred," the brief said.

In the first unregistered case, district management only found out in February about the medical officer after his hospital found the error in September last year. The medical officer had been registered in other states, but not in Queensland.

In the second case, the doctor was stood down after it was found registration had expired because of a delay processing exam results.

Queensland Health failed to respond to inquiries on Friday. The Opposition's health spokesman, Mark McArdle, said the failures showed the department had not learnt from the past, notably the killing of patients by Patel. "You have to ask why is this still happening?"


Coroner slams NSW state hospitals

THE same fatal mistakes are made again and again in hospitals because recommendations made after one death are not followed across the state, former NSW deputy coroner Carl Milovanovich said yesterday.

Twenty months have passed since an inquiry into NSW hospitals and Mr Milovanovich still has concerns about patient treatment. "The one thing that I have constantly encountered as a coroner was the repetition of the same mistakes," Mr Milovanovich, who was delivering a paper to the Australian Lawyers Alliance Medical Law Conference in Sydney, said. "There is no doubt systemic problems will exist in an organisation as large and as diverse as the NSW health system."

Mr Milovanovich presided over the Vanessa Anderson inquest. In 2005, the 16-year-old was taken to Royal North Shore hospital after being hit on the head by a golf ball. She died two days later. He found she died because of "systemic failures" at the hospital and the inappropriate administration of pain relief.

The inquest sparked the Garling inquiry, which concluded in late 2008 and resulted in 139 recommendations into acute care in public hospitals.

Mr Milovanovich said coroners must take great steps to deliver their findings into preventable hospital deaths to the highest level in state government. "The area health services are all separate little administrative units and they don't talk to each other and that's one of the problems," he said. "There's no guarantee that a recommendation that might have resulted from a death at Wagga will be implemented in an area health service at Lismore."

He acknowledged the findings of the Garling report and said an individual practitioner's mistakes reflected a larger issue. "We have dedicated and caring professionals working in the health system and their failings are invariably associated with the lack of resources, equipment and experienced staff and overriding budgetary constraints," Mr Milovanovich said. "Almost every medical or hospital death I've examined would fall into one of these categories."

During the question and answer session, he agreed there was still a lack of holistic patient care in the public hospital system. "The parameters end according to the carer's level of expertise or professionalism and they don't take that extra step of communicating to the next level. That seems to be an emerging problem," Mr Milovanovich said.


Hospital food fails those too ill to eat it

Hospitals will be forced to show they are preventing malnutrition in their patients or else lose their accreditation after continuing concerns about how vulnerable patients are fed.

Elderly patients who stay are hospitalised for long periods are dying from malnutrition because hospitals do not currently consider food part of clinical care, said Claire Hewat, the chief executive of the Dietitians Association of Australia.

And nearly two years after the Garling inquiry heard elderly people were "starving" in public hospitals, some NSW patients were still left unable to open and eat their food.

The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards will include a nutrition standard in its Evaluation and Quality Improvement Program, to be implemented in January, which Mrs Hewat hopes will improve hospital nutrition. It will apply to more than 1200 public and private hospitals and healthcare organisations across the country.

There were no national standards on nutrition in Australia, and not all hospitals had good standards, said the council's chief executive, Brian Johnston. "Clearly this can improve and will with the introduction of the new criterion," he said.

Karen Walton, a lecturer in health sciences at the University of Wollongong, specialises in nutrition support for the elderly. She said some hospitals in NSW had programs where food service staff open food and beverage packages. "It's still a significant issue, but [the programs show] things are starting to move in the right direction," she said.

If family members were concerned about elderly relatives they should try to visit them at meal times. "But if they can't be there, they should make sure that nurses and other staff know that their relative may need assistance and encouragement," she said.

Robin McLennan said her mother was in Mona Vale Hospital this month after hip surgery, when on two occasions food was delivered to three elderly patients in the room who were left unable to open or eat it. "I was helping mum [and] from the bed near my mother comes a little voice asking for help, too. So I took off all the lids, and cooled the hot soup and raised her bed," she said. "Then the other old lady started calling out, 'Help me, help me please'."

The Opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, said there were not enough staff in public hospitals to ensure that elderly patients ate their food. "Patients need to be able to access their meals and hospital staff need to have the time to assist those patients that require help," she said.

A spokeswoman for Mona Vale Hospital apologised to Ms McLennan and her mother. She said a food services assistant was provided to help patients eat their meals and the hospital was investigating the incident.

A spokeswoman for NSW Health said Health Support Services, which provides food to Mona Vale Hospital, was reviewing the quality and consistency of food services in public hospitals and had been in contact with the packaging industry about introducing containers that were easier to open.

The Garling inquiry, which examined acute care services in NSW public hospitals, was told that one in four elderly patients became malnourished during their hospital stay and that meals were not nutritionally sound for those admitted long-term.

Nurses complained they did not have enough time to ensure patients ate their meals and there was little monitoring of fluid and food consumption.

Dieticians also complained that many food items, presented in plastic containers, went uneaten because they were packaged in a way which made them appear inedible.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Before the age of Speech Therapists we had volunteers in hospitals who would come in and do things like feeding patients. Then with the professionalisation (is that a word?) of the bleeding obvious it became an issue of liability for the hospital if patients hadn't been assessed by a speech therapist who would decree whether the patient could swallow food or not. One result has been patients being fasted unnecessarily over whole weekends until a ST saw them on the Monday (or the Tuesday if they considered themselves too busy).