Thursday, July 07, 2011

5 year wait to fix hospital delays!

Too bad if you die in the meanwhile

THE Gillard government has dumped Kevin Rudd's, guarantee of private hospital care for patients facing long waits for elective surgery in the public system.

Despite latest trends showing public hospital elective surgery rates nationally are failing to keep pace with demand, the federal government has agreed with the state and territory governments on a public hospital-based plan aimed at delivering 100 per cent on-time surgery within five years.

The Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, disclosed yesterday the federal government had agreed in health reform negotiations with the states and territories to drop the private hospital backup proposal, on the advice of a clinical panel.
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Ms Roxon said the new approach set a higher target than the original benchmark, which proposed 95 per cent of elective surgery cases should be performed within agreed deadlines. "States believe this is even a harder target to reach but think it is a more sensible way to implement it over time."

Ms Roxon has also agreed to a plan for more ambitious targets for treatment times in emergency departments. These will require that by 2015 90 per cent of patients can leave emergency within four hours, with no exceptions, in contrast to the original proposal, which did allow for exceptions.

This was recognised as "ambitious, given the current proportion of patients leaving the emergency department within four hours is currently between 55 and 71 per cent", Ms Roxon said.

She confirmed this and other outstanding issues of disagreement with the states on the health reform agenda had been settled without the need for another meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, whose meeting scheduled for next week has since been called off.

A private hospitals spokesman, Michael Roff, told the Herald the state government bureaucracies were never keen on a private hospital role, even though private hospitals now account for more than 60 per cent of elective surgery. "It was very clear that any suggestion of using the private sector was too hard, " Mr Roff, the chief executive of the Australian Private Hospitals Association, said.

The Opposition's health spokesman, Peter Dutton, asked last night if waiting time targets were "facing the scalpel". "This minister has been a complete failure in health," he said.

In March last year, the then Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, said that if a patient's local public hospitals could not provide the elective surgery "then the Local Hospital Network will find that person a bed at another hospital within the Network - or with a private hospital if one can't easily be found".

Ms Roxon denied the change was a backdown. "I am not pretending to anyone this is not a change."

Latest statistics show that, after a brief fall in waiting times after the Rudd Government's $600 million elective surgery "blitz" in 2008, waiting times have begun to rise.


Phased ending of cattle export ban

This just shows how stupid the ban was in the first place. The policy just announced is the one they should have implemented in the first place

LIVE cattle exports to Indonesia will resume on a limited basis after a three-week total ban which threatened livelihoods and diplomatic relations. What the Government tonight called a "progressive reopening of the trade" appeared to be a response to increasing political pressure.

But exporters will have to establish they can meet certain "supply chain assurances" before getting permits. In effect, the ban has been lifted on a case-by-case basis only and it could be days before the first shipments are made. And it will only apply to shipments to the small number of Indonesia's abattoirs which meet Australian processing standards.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said pastoral giant Elders, which has some 60 per cent of the $320 million annual Indonesian trade, might be the first to take advantage of the lifted suspension.

Exposures will have to establish they are able to keep track of the cattle and that they will go to slaughterhouses using humane processing. Meat works in Indonesia will be independently audited to further trace cattle.

Nationals Leader Warren Truss said only a small proportion of the trade would be resumed, and that it could be several days before those shipments started.

Senator Ludwig said there had been agreement with industry on the adoption of international standards. "I am confident that a number of exporters in Australia are ready to meet these standards, and I am advised Indonesia is prepared to issue permits for importation of live cattle," he said.

The announcement came after West Australian grazier Nico Botha threatened to start shooting his animals this week because he can't afford to keep them alive on an over-stocked property.

Earlier today Indonesia confirmed it would significantly cut the number of cattle it sources from Australia when it re-assesses its import quota for next year.

The director general of livestock with the Ministry of Agriculture, Prabowo Caturroso, has said that Indonesia would still aim to import a total of 500,000 head of cattle in 2011, if and when Australia lifted the suspension on the live trade.

However, he said his office, which advises the government on the number of import permits that should be issued to Indonesian feedlots each quarter, would be recommending a dramatic cut in live cattle sourced from Australia.


Warmist cuts off interview when science is raised

His only stock of wisdom was "ad hominem" accusations

ABC radio presenter Adam Spencer has been told to "shut up" and stop being childish during a heated on-air exchange with climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton.

In what was more a debate than an interview, Spencer hung up on his guest before calling back to resume the interview.

The tension began when Spencer asked Lord Monckton about his claims that he is a Nobel Laureate. Lord Monckton said he was given a pin by a US professor who felt he deserved one for his work and he sometimes wore it as a joke.

"That's what we on the centre right would call a joke, it's something you on the left and the ABC might not perhaps fully understand."

Spencer replied by saying he wasn't on the left or the right or in the centre. "I'm trying to establish your credentials ... because there seems to be a consistent pattern, sir, when you speak publicly and analyse climate science," he said.

"It's my understanding you've never held any academic position at any university or any research institute attached to any science connected with climate science." Spencer then pursued Lord Monckton about alleged misrepresentations in his work.

Lord Monckton replied, "You say you're not taking a position, it's clearly a position which is deliberately hostile, you're entitled to do that, it's what the ABC is infamous for on this debate."

Spencer said he was simply putting out questions. "I apologise if you're detecting hostility."

Then after several minutes of arguing about his work, Lord Monckton said Spencer had been unable to raise a single scientific point on which he was wrong.

The interview was then terminated by Spencer


Wife tells how husband died after Gold Coast hospital sent him home

POOR record keeping at the state's hospitals is frustrating the families of patients who have died as they struggle to piece together what happened to their loved ones.

Michelle Bowers lost her husband, Terry, at Gold Coast Hospital in 2008, despite him presenting the previous day in a very weak state from constant vomiting.

"Their assumption was that he was dehydrated and (they) were unsure of what else might be wrong with him - they said he was 'a mystery'," she said. "He was sent home around 2pm that day. We asked for a wheelchair (but) they replied they did not have one available. "I then proceeded to help my husband to walk out of the hospital."

Mrs Bowers said Terry, 48, rapidly deteriorated overnight and was rushed back to the emergency department by ambulance the following morning. He died about two hours later.

"On arrival, they started with many tests, which showed a massive gastro bleed," she said. "I believe that had they kept him in, he may be still alive - they could have performed surgery that day, or overnight."

Mrs Bowers broke down as she recounted the final moments of his life. "My husband said to me 'I can't breathe Michelle' - I could see he was going," she said. "I can't bring him back and it is really sad but the thing is something needs to be done. "They can't just keep on brushing it off as an unexpected death. Someone needs to be made accountable for what's going on."

Mrs Bowers said she had since met with directors of the hospital, who she said admitted Terry should not have been sent home. "Their direct words were 'Terry was a red flag (and) should have been kept in'," she said.

An independent investigation by the Health Quality and Complaints Commission also stated the hospital should not have sent her husband home that day, she said.

Gold Coast Health Service District acting CEO Professor Ged Williams said he couldn't comment specifically on Mr Bowers but "there are times when the symptoms a patient displays are not consistent with the seriousness of their illness or injury".

Prof Williams said the hospital had a robust patient death review procedure in place which was continually being reviewed but it was not explained why the data remained hidden despite falling within the scope of the RTI.

Australian Medical Association of Queensland president Richard Kidd said the State Government was not doing enough to improve emergency department capacity. "It's still the problem we don't have enough beds, doctors and nurses and that's the real problem stopping the emergency departments from being able to empty out into the wards in a quick time," he said.

"They've committed to about 300 new beds this year but the AMA's calculations are that they need about 1200 or 1300 new beds right now with the demand that's there."


Navy brass discredited

THREE senior sailors thrown off HMAS Success in Singapore without explanation amid a sex scandal should be paid compensation, a judicial inquiry said.

The three men, Chief Petty Officer Jason Thomas, Petty Officer Orlando Barrett and Petty Officer Jake Thompson, were found guilty of sexual misconduct and bullying by an earlier investigation. However, a high-level inquiry by retired judge Roger Gyles QC said the men were left in "limbo" by incompetent senior officers who chose to withhold information, not release it.

"There is no hint anyone gave any consideration to the interests of the landed sailors and their families," the report said.

Mr Gyles accused the brass of misrepresenting an "equity and diversity team" sent to the ship before the three sailors were landed in Singapore in May 2009. "I am far from satisfied that I was told the truth about the decision to send the team, the role the team played and the consequent decision to land the sailors," the report says.

Part two of the Gyles report, released by the government today, is damning of the navy's senior management culture. "I recommend the Chief of Navy offer a properly framed apology to the landed senior sailors and a payment of ex-gratia monetary compensation be made to each of them," it says.

The inquiry was set up by former minister John Faulkner after serious anomalies in the first inquiries into the Success debacle, which involved public sex acts, drunken behaviour, bullying and property damage.

Mr Gyles, who billed taxpayers $7700 a day for his inquiry, accused navy command of making conscious decisions to withhold information that was damaging to the three sailors and of refusing to explain to them why they had been landed and why they were banned from rejoining their ship. "The number of relatively high-ranking officers involved in each of these decisions complicates the making of any recommendation," the report says.

Former navy chief Vice-Admiral Russ Crane, a former captain of Success, had vowed to act on the inquiry's recommendation but retired, to be replaced by Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs.

The report also accuses Admiral Crane of being "disingenuous" for writing to a newspaper, implying the sailors were thrown off for valid reasons.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"Wife tells how husband died after Gold Coast hospital sent him home"

Every ED patient is a mystery. The job of the hospital is to solve the mystery, not send it home. The location of medical notes after a bad event can be a mystery too. I have in years gone by seen stressed medical notes disappear, then reappear after a refreshing makeover.