Monday, May 14, 2012


Your regulators will protect you -- NOT

THREE doctors told investigators they had to patrol a Gold Coast hospital, turning on life support systems after a rogue specialist switched them off to speed up the deaths of several elderly patients.

"Lots more patients would have died if the doctors had not gone around and turned them back on," whistleblower Jo Barber said yesterday. "The doctors were not interviewed by police, even though there was compelling evidence of unlawful killings."

Ms Barber, a former police officer, took statements from the doctors four years ago in her role as chief investigator at the Medical Board of Queensland.

She said: "As the interviews continued I kept reporting more and more explosive allegations of deliberate harm to patients. "But I was told repeatedly the medical board handled matters in-house, and there was no need to go to the police."

The rogue doctor was described by a colleague as a psychopath in a recording now in possession of the CMC.

Ms Barber said she was astounded the doctor did not lose his registration even though the medical board put restrictions on his work, including banning him from working in intensive care units.

The board's functions were taken over by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, a federal body, in 2010.

Ms Barber was the board's representative on the Health Quality and Complaints Commission and is now employed by Queensland Health's ethical standards unit.

She has accused all the watchdog agencies of failing in their duty to protect patients.

Retired judge Richard Chesterman, QC, and the CMC's Inspector Cameron Byram are examining serious allegations against doctors on the Gold Coast and at Brisbane, Townsville, Toowoomba, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

Although she is co-operating with the CMC, Ms Barber said she was concerned it was not moving quickly enough.

She said the CMC failed in its oversight of the other agencies when she first sounded the alarm.

She has given the CMC the names of 18 doctors she says maimed and killed patients.

Many of the doctors are recklessly incompetent and still practising, she said.

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Doctors group says heterosexual marriage better for kids

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has distanced itself from a group of prominent doctors who say children are better off when raised by heterosexual parents, rather than same-sex couples.

Around 150 medical practitioners from the group Doctors for the Family, including a member of Victoria's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, say children raised in heterosexual relationships "do better in all parameters".

The group has signed a submission to the Senate inquiry into marriage equality, opposing same-sex marriage and asserting that marriage between a man and a woman is the "basis for a healthy society".

The submission says that marriage, as it is currently defined under the Marriage Act 2004, is more stable than same-sex marriages.

Doctors for the Family's convener, Lachlan Dunjey, told ABC News Radio the group is concerned about the health consequences for children of gay marriages.

"It's well proven that children who grow up with a mother and a father in a biological mother-and-father family do better than children who don't have the opportunity to grow up in that kind of family," he said.

But AMA president Steve Hambleton has rejected the claims, saying there is no evidence that children with same-sex parents are any different to those with heterosexual parents.

"There is a growing body of evidence that says there's no difference in their psychological development, their general health, their sexual orientation," he said.

Dr Hambleton says the opinions expressed in the submission do not reflect the views of the wider medical community, saying there are nearly 90,000 doctors in Australia.

Meanwhile, Victoria's Deputy Chief Psychiatrist, Professor Kuravilla George, who was appointed to the board of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission by the State Government, is one of the doctors who signed the petition.

Victoria's Mental Health Minister is seeking an urgent explanation from the state's Chief Psychiatrist, Ruth Vine, over her deputy's decision to join forces with Doctors For The Family.

A spokesman for Victoria's Mental Health Minister, Mary Wooldridge, says the Government was unaware of the submission and is seeking an immediate explanation.

Professor George has declined the ABC's request for an interview but confirmed his involvement with the group.

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Forget measly tax cuts - businesses need government reform

The Gillard government has reneged on its promise to reduce the corporate tax rate by 1% – a cut that was part of the package to secure the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT). Although this backflip will surely anger the business community, there are far bigger problems affecting the bottom lines of Australian businesses.

Many small business owners cite a strong dollar, growing regulatory burden, and inflexible labour laws as major impediments to their competitiveness. There is not much the government can do about the strength of the dollar, since strong demand for minerals at home and weak financial markets abroad have caused large capital inflows.

But the government can help ease the regulatory burden and increase labour market flexibility.

On regulation, the Productivity Commission has published some meaningful proposals. In last year’s Review of Regulatory Burdens on Business, the commission drew attention to promising developments in the states. Victoria, NSW, South Australia, and Queensland have all implemented Red Tape Reduction Targets.

These targets require departments and agencies to reduce existing compliance costs by a certain value within a specific time period. Most refer to the costs related to paperwork, but in some cases (Victoria, for example), this includes the costs created by delays.

There has been a degree of success with this approach. Victoria set a reduction target of $500 million by 2012. The state estimated that reductions had reached $401 million by July 2010. Perhaps the federal government could implement some ambitious reduction targets of its own.

On labour market flexibility, the fact that the passage of the Fair Work Act did not include an accompanying Regulatory Impact Statement (as is common with many large reforms) has been a major cause for concern.

Though some headway has been made in the simplification of awards, much rigidity still remains.

The retail sector could benefit from a loosening of penalty rate rules and minimum hours for shifts. This would provide some breathing space from the pressures of declining consumer confidence, increased saving, and online competition. Unfair dismissal provisions can be scrapped, or at least tightened, to reduce both the costs arising from claims and the employment risk that new workers now pose.

All these measures are concrete changes the federal government can make to yield significant cost savings for businesses across the board.

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Student's suspension was wrong, Victorian school admits

A SCHOOL has been forced to apologise to a student suspended because his parents didn't attend a parent-teacher interview.

Sunbury Downs College principal Brett Moore had to revoke the suspension, allowing year 12 student Brendan Mason to return after the exasperated family took the story to the media.

"There's been a misunderstanding (with) what the parents have to do and what the person in charge of this thought they had to do," Mr Moore said.

Brendan's dad, Andrew, said his son had a learning disability and would struggle to make up classes he had missed.  "He has a full-time aide, so we constantly meet his integration aide, his teachers, we meet his pathways teachers to help out with what he's doing, the direction he's going and what's happening," Mr Mason said.

The parents were shocked when Brendan was pulled into the vice-principal's office on Tuesday and told he would not be allowed to attend classes yesterday as his parents had missed a parent-teacher meeting last week.

Mr Mason said he and wife Dee never attended the meetings as they had separate, more regular, appointments with Brendan's integration aide and subject teachers.

"Ever since year 7 we have constantly had the same processes ... I explained this to (the vice-principal) and there was no flexibility from her," he said.  "She was just like, 'that's bad luck, that's policy'."

He said he was dumbfounded the school punished his son for something his parents had done.  "There's no flexibility, I'm upset, I'm angry, I just can't see how they punish children," he said.

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1 comment:

Paul said...

Children ARE better off raised by a married Mother and Father, regardless of Penny Wong's pathetic ploys for political sympathy over Hockey's "hurtful" comments. It appears that, like the American Democrats, Labor is going to pin its future on what it would call "progressive" social policy (aka irrelevance) by manipulating militant Gays and their useful idiot supporters. At least in Queensland that whole Civil Unions thing has gone away.