Sunday, August 14, 2011

Queensland hospitals to limit outpatient visits to two per person to cut waiting lists, costs

What an outrageous policy! What if I get a serious health problem and I have already been to hospital twice for other things? This will be a huge hit on people in poor health

CANCER patients and road-crash victims will be among thousands of Queenslanders restricted to two hospital outpatient visits under a secret plan by health bureaucrats to slash official waiting lists and costs. The Sunday Mail can reveal that doctors and surgeons have been directed by Queensland Health to refer outpatients back to GPs after two visits.

The two-visit limit has outraged doctors who say it will severely impact patients requiring long-term care, particularly road trauma victims, cancer patients, those with spinal injuries and broken bones, as well as chronic care patients such as diabetics and epileptics. More than 200 doctors and surgeons were given the edict at a special meeting at the Princess Alexandra Hospital earlier this month.

Doctors believe the PA Hospital is the first of many around the state to introduce the policy.

The Australian Medical Association yesterday claimed the move was a breach of the National Healthcare Agreement, which states that no one should be denied treatment in the public system.

Senior surgeons at the PA Hospital accused Queensland Health of using a "big stick" approach to shift patients from hospital outpatient clinics to GPs.

Latest figures show that about 218,000 Queenslanders are on specialist outpatient waiting lists in the public system.

"They want us to treat new cases and not old ones," said one surgeon, who asked not to be named. "They want us to reduce the number of times we follow-up patients because they think this will solve the Queensland Health crisis. "We are now having this limit imposed on us and it is not based on any data, it is simply a bureaucrat plucking a number out of the air."

The surgeon said some Queensland hospitals were being sued for failures in follow-up care.

Queensland Health director-general Dr Tony O'Connell said moving patients from the hospital to other health experts would mean shorter waiting lists. "Trials have demonstrated large groups of patients can, in fact, be seen by a primary healthcare specialist, such as a GP or a physiotherapist, which frees up more specialist appointment time," he said.

Another surgeon said referring patients to GPs was a delaying tactic because it could "often take 12 months to get back into the public hospital from a GP referral".

Opposition regional health spokesman Andrew Laming - a registered eye surgeon and former public hospital outpatient specialist - said he had received several complaints from doctors. "Capping outpatient clinics could have disastrous consequences for patients," Dr Laming said.

Doctors said the move was being driven by new complex funding arrangements that were to be implemented under national health reforms from July 1 next year. The reforms will include a set number of procedures funded, after which no extra Federal Government funding will be forthcoming.


Federal "Green" attack on big houses

This will have no effect, contrary to the hot air below. People who can afford a big house will not balk at a couple of hundred dollars for another useless bit of paper and nor will they be much motivated to save on energy costs. If they were real Greenies they would be buying a small house, to reduce their "footprint".

And calling big houses "McMansions" is just empty-headed abuse. "McMansions" originally referred to houses that all looked much alike but the bigger a house is, the more likely an architect will have been involved in its design. The term also reflects a contempt for popular design features, which is just snobbery

A NEW green scheme threatens to wipe tens of thousands of dollars from the market price of so-called "McMansions".

The Federal Government aims to introduce, by as soon as next year, mandatory energy star ratings for homes being sold or rented out. Under the favoured system, vendors and landlords would have to pay about $200 to have their property assessed, with a total cost to homeowners and property investors of $1.1 billion over the next 10 years.

Housing experts said most McMansions would score very poorly on the ratings system, which would be similar to the methodology used to identify the energy efficiency of whitegoods.

Mick Fabar, director of private energy-ratings firm Green Homes Australia, said: "Through our experience with our rating tool, those two-storey McMansions would not get over zero."

There are significant financial implications for owners of these homes - and most older dwellings which are also likely to rate lowly. Owners would need to either spend up on going green or face the prospect of a lower sale price.

A Federal Government study into a similar ACT scheme operating since 1999, which rates properties out of 10 stars, found that a 1-star difference affected selling prices by 3 per cent.

Asked whether the scheme would have a negative effect on the sale price of some homes, a spokeswoman for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet said: "It will allow buyers and renters to better compare different properties, making it easier to identify a property which uses less energy or water and thereby save money."

But the Federal Opposition's spokesman for climate action, environment and heritage, Greg Hunt, said such a scheme would create "enormous uncertainty".

"It could push up the cost of rent for people just when they are feeling cost-of-living pressures," Mr Hunt said. "It's another cost imposed on people from the Government."

The new federal system is expected to replace the Bligh Government's so-called Sustainability Declaration which was introduced in 2009. Under the scheme, sellers were meant to sign a form detailing their home's energy-efficient features. But the property industry complained the forms were too complex and buyers were not interested in the information.


More authoritarian government: People to be denied pain and anxiety medications!

There is no role for government in this. It is solely a matter for the doctor and patient

PATIENTS could be refused pain and anxiety medication, and others face being weaned off the drugs under a Federal Government crackdown.

Australia has become a nation of pill poppers, with the appetite for narcotic and anxiety drugs draining the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme of almost $800 million in three years. And patients who are prescribed the drugs now face being tracked by a new database for the first time in a bid to control the legal and illegal sale of pharmaceuticals.

The Government will release a National Pharmaceutical Drug Misuse Strategy within months as fears grow about more dementia and chronic pain cases as the population ages.

The Sunday Mail can reveal Queenslanders received almost 8.7 million prescriptions for narcotics (pain relief) and benzodiazepines (anxiety and insomnia), since 2008, costing the PBS more than $167 million.

The number of Queenslanders who have checked into an opioid dependence program has skyrocketed by 400 per cent, from more than 200 registered admissions in 2001 to more than 1000 last year.

The National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, which is developing the government's national strategy, said many people may have developed "unrealistic expectations" about how drugs can treat their pain or anxiety. It raised concerns about patients becoming addicted to some pharmaceutical drugs and patients selling their drugs on the black market.

The centre signalled that if it was clinically appropriate some patients should not be issued drugs, especially for long-term use. Instead patients should be directed to therapy.

"A key issue is whether the improved drug affordability associated with the PBS leads to the preferential use of medications by prescribers rather than non-medical alternatives, regardless of their respective efficacy," a centre discussion paper said.

There were also concerns about whether the long-term use of certain drugs for those suffering from chronic non-malignant pain was even beneficial or clinically sound, it added.


Must not tell the truth about Mohammed????

THE radio presenter Michael Smith is being investigated by the media watchdog over his assertion that the prophet Muhammad "married a nine-year-old and consummated it when she was 11".

The Australian Communications and Media Authority confirmed in a letter dated July 21 that it was investigating the remarks by the 2UE afternoon host.

Adem Cetinay, a Muslim from Bossley Park, complained that Mr Smith was inciting hatred against Muslims through his July 5 broadcast. "By making this remark he is asserting that God's messenger is a paedophile. This is racist, it's stupid and it is not needed on air," he wrote to the station's program director, Peter Brennan.

Mr Brennan replied that Mr Smith had made the "throwaway line". "However, at no time did he refer to any Prophet's name, nor did he use the word 'Prophet'. He did not refer to anybody whatsoever in the broadcast," he wrote.

Mr Cetinay took his complaint to ACMA. In a letter, the authority's Eileen Haley said it would embark on an investigation that could take "several months".

Meanwhile, Mr Cetinay is awaiting a response over a separate complaint about remarks Mr Smith made over the controversial "Jesus: a prophet of Islam" billboard.

"What if someone whacked up a billboard and said well, I think it's a fact that because Muhammad was married to a 11 … you know consummating a marriage with an 11-year-old, by these standards he's a paedophile". His guest, Diaa Mohammed, the founder of MyPeace, which erected the sign, agreed that Muhammad had consummated his marriage with an 11-year-old.



Anonymous said...

Islam needs to become familiar with the expression 'if the shoe fits-- wear it'.

You can't modify the text of your religion to disguise history. Your choice to worship -- your requirement to accept the baggage and all its connotations in your adopted country.


Paul said...

"Queensland Health to refer outpatients back to GPs after two visits."

Love to seem them try that one on with the local indigenous communities.