Tuesday, August 31, 2010

AAAH! That lovely global cooling

Coldest year on record for minimum temperatures in the capital of Western Australia

Perth is shivering through its coldest year for overnight temperatures, but at the same time bathing in the sunniest winter on record.

Meanwhile, farmers are battling the second driest year since records began, as the WA Bureau of Meteorology rewrites the history books for rain, sun and temperature extremes.

Perth's minimum temperature for winter this year is 1.9C colder than the average 8.2C, according to the bureau's climate information officer John Relf.

And the city has received just 402.6mm of rain compared to the January to August average of 648.3mm.

While daytime temperatures are on average at 18.8C, the number of sunlight hours are well above the 6.4 hour average with a 7.3 hour average recorded for August. ``We've literally had an extra hour of sunlight a day in August this year," Mr Relf said. ``Our weather has been dominated by high pressure and when you get high pressure for extended periods of time the lows just run underneath. ``We seem to be going on some sort of parallel with 2006 at the moment, which recorded the driest year on record and it's been going like that for a long time."

The dry conditions spell devastation for many wheat and cattle farmers across large parts of the state. WA Farmers Federation president Mike Norton said some farmers in the eastern Wheatbelt stand to lose entire crops this year because of drought. ``You don't have to go very far inland to be at half our normal rainfall," Mr Norton said. ``We desperately need a very, very wet September.

``When you start to talk about livestock, there is going to be some real problems across a very large area of the Wheatbelt. Pastures are doing worse than what the crops are."

Perth dams are also low. At 35.3 percent capacity, dams are down 52.38 gigalitres compared to this time last year - one gigalitre is the size of Subiaco oval filled to the brim.

Despite the dry spell, the Bureau of Meteorology says the outlook for spring holds some hope. The bureau is predicting a 65 per cent chance that the median rainfall will be exceeded from September to November in the South-West, while remaining average across the state in spring. ``The pattern of seasonal rainfall odds across Australia is dominated by the recent warm conditions in the Indian Ocean as well as a cooling trend in the equatorial Pacific Ocean associated with a La Nina," it says.


More Qld. medical board craziness

They allow dangerous doctors to keep practising (Jayant Patel take a bow) and then ban a really popular doctor with zero complaints against him

A SMALL town is so desperate to hang on to its deregistered GP that it is taking on the medical board. Lowood, west of Brisbane, is fighting to save South African-born Dr Rajendra Moodley despite the GP – who sees 50 patients a day – failing a critical Medical Board interview.

Dr Moodley has worked in the town under supervision for six years with special registration that allows doctors to work in areas of need. Last year he failed his first attempt at the written Royal College exam to earn full registration before subsequently failing an interview based on unsatisfactory examination, interview skills and familiarity with cultural idioms.

Despite later passing part of the written exam, the Australian Medical Board advised Dr Moodley he was no longer allowed to practise. It would not elaborate yesterday, citing privacy concerns.

But the results mean nothing in the town of Lowood, where there is a chronic GP shortage. Residents have rushed to defend Dr Moodley, drawing up a petition to save the GP.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Gino Pecararo said the case highlighted just how chronic the doctor shortage was in the western growth corridor.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said Dr Moodley was loved by a community that desperately needed him. "Good doctors are hard to get and hard to keep here," Cr Lehmann said. "To be really honest, to be liked as much as Dr Moodley and to have helped as many people as he has says a lot."

Lowood Medical Centre practice principal Paul Crowley said the Australian Medical Board had "egg on its face" after allowing Dr Moodley to practise for six years. "I knew as soon as they advised him to stop working there would be riots," Dr Crowley said. "He's worked without incident, without complaint for six years. These 50 patients a day will now have to join the queue at Ipswich."

Dr Moodley's registration was contingent on him working towards the Royal College exams and yearly supervision reports by Dr Crowley.

Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said he believed it was a case of bureaucracy "running riot". "This appears to be a case of a dedicated doctor who has the support of his colleagues and the community being hung out to dry," Mr McArdle said.

A Medical Board spokesman said: "For doctors with limited registration, the board must decide if the individual doctor has the skills, qualifications and experience to provide safe care to Australian patients". [But evidence that he DOES provide safe care doesn't count, apparently]

Dr Moodley, who has hired lawyers to fight his case, said he was humbled by the community's support. He said he believed he was more than competent in his role.


History wars set to break out again

THE new national school curriculum could be delayed under a Coalition government, which would review it and address ideological concerns it has about some history topics.

The Coalition's education policy broadly supports Labor's moves towards a nationally consistent curriculum, due to be introduced next year, but it accuses Labor of politicising the draft curriculum in history.

The policy is critical of the absence of references to the Magna Carta and the Westminster parliamentary system, which underpin Australia's legal and political systems. It is critical of students being taught about the "day-to-day activities of trade unions and the history of the Australian Labor Party".

School teachers have complained that the history and English curriculums have been politicised by governments.

The Howard government commissioned a Monash University historian, Tony Taylor, to draft a new Australian history curriculum, but sidelined its recommendations. The conservative historian Geoffrey Blainey and the political commentator Gerard Henderson were later appointed to rewrite the curriculum.

Associate Professor Taylor acted as a consultant in the drafting of the new history curriculum introduced under the current Labor government, and said a "huge amount of work" had gone into it. "In the history area, the sequence of drafts have been devoid of ideological overtone," he said. "From a professional point of view, it would be inexplicable if any new government decided to go back to square one."

NSW English and maths teacher organisations are unhappy with the draft national curriculum, saying they favour the existing NSW Board of Studies curriculum. Eva Gold, a spokeswoman for the NSW English Teachers Association, said teachers would be relieved if the national curriculum was scrapped.

"Teachers in NSW would be greatly relieved to teach the NSW curriculum rather than the national curriculum," she said. "Our members are not happy at all with the K to 10 [kindergarten to year 10] curriculum."


Churches get opt-out from same-sex adoption bill in NSW

Sounds like it will get blocked in the upper house anyway. Fred Nile should see to that. It's a big contrast with bigoted Britain where church agencies have been driven out of adoption services

THE independent state MP Clover Moore has moved to shore up support for her same-sex adoption bill by giving church adoption agencies the right to refuse services to gay and lesbian couples without breaching anti-discrimination laws.

Ms Moore wrote to MPs on Friday announcing she would amend the bill and reintroduce it to Parliament on Thursday. She told the Herald she was amending the bill "in line with requests" from church adoption agencies to help ensure its passage through Parliament.

"Some members of Parliament have told me that they will not support reform without an exemption for church-based adoption agencies," she said. "While the amendments do not reflect my strong belief that there should be no exemptions in the Anti-Discrimination Act, the bill is so important to the security of families headed by same-sex couples that I cannot risk possible defeat."

The convener of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Kellie McDonald, said the group had argued against the amendment, but was taking a pragmatic approach. "We're obviously not in support of religious exemptions," she said. "However, if the amendment means the bill gets passed, we are in support of this happening. If it means that it will persuade some of the more conservative MPs to support the bill and it gets support, that's a good outcome."

However, news of the amendment has not changed the view of church leaders. A letter co-authored by the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell and the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, arrived on MPs' desks yesterday urging them to vote down the bill.

It follows a similar letter to MPs earlier this month from one of the state's leading adoption agencies, Anglicare, which has said the original proposal would force it to cease offering adoption services.

The chief executive of Anglicare Sydney, Peter Kell, said yesterday that the amendment did not change the agency's opposition to the principle of the bill, but he was pleased it would allow Anglicare to continue adoption services if it becomes law.

The NSW Council of Churches will hold a protest meeting in the NSW Parliament House theatrette today in opposition to the bill.

The Premier, Kristina Keneally, and the Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, have agreed to allow their MPs a conscience vote on the issue.

However, the Christian Democratic MLC, the Reverend Fred Nile, said the proposed amendment would not alter his view. "I'm pleased that [Ms Moore] is amending it," Mr Nile said. "But it doesn't change our opposition in principle to the objects of the bill. I believe every child has a right to a mother and a father".

The amendment brings Ms Moore's bill into line with the recommendations of a Legislative Council committee into the issue last year.


More hospital bungling in NSW

Trauma plan puts lives at risk, say doctors

A DECADE-long plan by the health department to limit the number of hospitals allowed to treat seriously injured patients is on the brink of collapse and has been labelled dangerous and under-funded by senior doctors.

Under the state trauma plan, introduced in March, paramedics in Sydney were ordered to take patients with multiple injuries to Royal Prince Alfred, Royal North Shore, St George, Westmead and Liverpool hospitals - even if they were hurt in the city or eastern suburbs.

But the plan is now in disarray after senior doctors from St Vincent's successfully lobbied to have the hospital reinstated as a trauma centre. Staff at Nepean Hospital are also pushing for an upgrade, arguing that Westmead Hospital is not coping with a surge in the number of trauma patients since the plan was introduced.

"It's dangerous … the people who should be coming to Nepean are not," the chairman of NSW Health's surgical services taskforce, Patrick Cregan, said yesterday.

He cited the case of a man shot at Werrington last week, five kilometres from Nepean Hospital. The man, conscious when he was loaded into the ambulance, was taken to Westmead Hospital, 28 kilometres away but died on arrival.

Nepean was stripped of its trauma status because it could not maintain a 24-hour neurosurgical roster after one of its neurosurgeons, Suresh Nair, was charged with the cocaine-related murder of a Brazilian student. Nair was also charged with manslaughter over the death of a prostitute.

"That issue has been resolved and we can now provide a full roster … so we should be allowed to function as we were," Dr Cregan said. "We had an effective process in place. It is not acceptable to have people picked up out the front of Nepean Hospital and taken to Westmead."

Westmead was struggling to see its emergency patients on time before the trauma plan was introduced, with less than two-thirds of those with potentially life-threatening problems seen within the required 30 minutes.

The NSW chairman of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Richard Paoloni, said he was "not overly surprised" the trauma plan was collapsing as it had been poorly funded.

Royal Prince Alfred and St George hospitals had been expected to absorb an extra 400 patients a year and Westmead another 200 with a limited increase in bed numbers or staff.

"You increase the number of patients but you don't increase the hospital's resources? Of course some centres will not be able to manage that," Dr Paoloni said. "There's a lot of kudos in being a trauma centre but if the health department is serious, it truly needs to put money into emergency departments, radiology and extra beds, rather than extra care co-ordinators."

The director of trauma at St Vincent's, Tony Grabs, said the plan had been short-sighted because it did not take into account inner Sydney's unique needs, particularly around Kings Cross where alcohol-fuelled violence was common.

"The model wasn't broken, so why fix it? Sending our patients to RPA seemed a little unusual when we do stabbings better than anyone else. We do shootings better. We don't want to position ourselves as a major trauma centre but we do want to look after our locals," Dr Grabs said.


1 comment:

Paul said...

A child has a right to a mother and father, yes. That should be the first/best option. Following that a child has a right to a safe, loving home where their potential can be explored in safety and security. If its a "Gay" household then so be it. The nature of this debate doesn't seem to be about the children.