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Tasmanian Health Conference 2014
Registrations are open of this years Tasmanian Health Conference, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th July at the Medical Sciences Precinct in Hobart. Click here or on the logo to register and see the complete programme.
AMA Family Doctor Week
8th July 2014: The AMA Family Doctor Week theme this year is Your Family Doctor – Keeping you Healthy.
AMA FAMILY DOCTOR WEEK, 21- 27 July 2014. Click here for more information.
Family Doctor Week is the AMA's annual celebration of the hard work and dedication of the nation's GPs – your family doctors. Throughout Family Doctor Week, the AMA will be issuing media releases about the vital role played by family doctors in primary health care, and raising contemporary health policy issues – such as the proposed GP co-payment, changes in medical training, and other Budget measures – that will affect family doctors and their patients.
The challenge of end-of-life care: What is a ‘good’ death?
One of the greatest challenges doctors face is end-of-life care which is often compounded by a minefield of ethical, clinical and legal issues, and the notion of ‘dying well,’ a leading Australian bioethicist believes.
Internationally recognised scholar in bioethics and philosophy of medicine, Ian Kerridge, Associate Professor in Bioethics and Director of the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) at the University of Sydney, made the comments in the lead up to a special Avant Risk IQ webinar ‘Professional morality: Difficult ethical issues in medicine,’ where he will speak on 24 June 2014.
“The webinar will address many of the ethical, legal and clinical complexities that arise as doctors treat patients at the end of their lives and discuss practical strategies and resources that doctors can use to improve the quality of their patient’s living, dying and death,” he said.
Moderated by Georgie Haysom, Head of Advocacy, the panel, which features prominent academic, Professor Cameron Stewart, Pro Dean at Sydney Law School and Dr Walid Jammal, GP and Senior Medical Advisor, Avant, will also discuss how doctors can reduce their medico-legal risk when assisting patients with end-of-life decisions.
While Associate Professor Kerridge, also a Staff Haematologist/BMT Physician at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, recognised that while assisting patients at the end of their life to ‘die well’ was clearly the goal of every doctor, intrinsically, dying was never easy.
“As much as we seek, in our personal and professional lives, to ease the suffering, loneliness, distress and loss that many may experience at the end of their lives, this cannot ‘fix’ the principal challenge - for no one wishes to die, to leave behind so much that is precious,” he said.
“End-of-life care, therefore, provides one of the greatest challenges for medical practitioners. In large measure this is because dying it is not simply a ‘medical’ issue, but a cultural, spiritual, ethical and legal one.”
In recent years, Associate Professor Kerridge said concerns over the quality of end-of-life care provided, had led to an interrogation of the meaning of dignity, suffering, hope and care, the introduction of expanded legal and institutional mechanisms to enhance patient autonomy and scrutiny of factors which may characterise a ‘good death.’
“Although these discussions are not straightforward – we are starting to get a clearer idea about those factors that may contribute to a ‘good death.’”
“Specifically, the importance of access to information, expertise, hospice care and emotional needs; adequate pain relief; the sense of completion or closure of one’s life; the opportunity to say goodbye; and patient autonomy over aspects of terminal care, including symptom control and the place and timing of death,” he said.
“We are also getting a clearer idea about things that doctors may do - often inadvertently - that may lead to a ‘bad death.’”
These issues can include a lack of honest communication or lack of care, simple human support and planning of end-life-care, in addition to inadequate pain relief and/or symptom control.
Free to Avant members only, doctors can now register for the webinar here (http://www.avant.org.au/Events/20140624-difficult-ethical-issues-in-medicine/) and obtain CPD points.
27th May 2014: To view the AMA presentation shown on Sunday 25th May at the 2014 AMA National Conference click here.
AMA Tasmania examines The Commission Report on Delivery of Health Services in Tasmania
6th May 2014: AMA Tasmania has closely examined The Commission on Delivery of Health Services in Tasmania report released over the weekend. AMA Tasmania President Dr Tim Greenaway said while there was much in the report with which the AMA was in broad agreement, they had major concerns about the data used to inform several of the report’s recommendations.
“AMA Tasmania takes particular exception to Recommendation 52, which states that the Royal Hobart Hospital’s re-development be placed on hold,” Dr Greenaway said. “Section 3.8 of the report, which deals with the re-development project, is less than two pages in length and provides no evidence at all to support the Commission’s recommendation.
“In fact, the Commission’s suggestion that the proposed hospital design includes excess capacity is incorrect. “The AMA is disappointed to learn the report’s authors made no attempt to discuss the hospital’s re-development with senior clinical staff and considers it would be a serious mistake to abandon such a vital project of state-wide significance, on the basis of such ill-informed and poorly considered opinion.”
Notice is hereby given that the Fifty-Third Annual General Meeting of members of Australian Medical Association Limited will be held at 4.10pm on Friday 23 May 2014 at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
The AMA’s current Memorandum and Articles of Association (the previous term for a constitution) was last amended in 2006. The structure of the federal AMA is out-dated and requires modernisation. The Federal Council is the board of the company, Australian Medical Association Limited, and as such has responsibility for all corporate accountability under the Corporations Act.
The new Memorandum and Articles of Association clarifies the role of Federal Council, which is to review and develop the AMA’s medico-political and public policies and make recommendations to the Board in these matters. It is also tasked with identifying and engaging sections of the medical profession which are currently underrepresented in the membership of the AMA. The proposed changes can be viewed here.
A member eligible to vote at the Annual General Meeting may appoint a proxy in accordance with Clause 22 of the AMA Articles of Association. A proxy need not be a member of Australian Medical Association Limited (section 249L Corporations Act). To be effective the proxy form must be deposited at the below place not less than 48 hours before the time for holding the Annual General Meeting.
I would urge members to support these changes and would encourage those of you who wish to have your vote recorded to complete the attached proxy forms and return them to me or to AMA House by 5pm Monday May 19. Proxy voting forms can be downloaded here.
Proxies are to be deposited with Australian Medical Association Limited by mail or hand delivery to AMA House 147 Davey Street, Hobart by 5pm Monday 19th May 2014.
TIM GREENAWAY, President AMA Tasmania.
Keep our Doctors
The Queensland Government is attempting to push the state’s doctors onto individual contracts that could force our most senior doctors out of the public health system.
The contracts would strip away vital working conditions like many significant provisions relating to fatigue management and allow doctors to be dismissed at any time for no reason.
Already doctors right across the state have voted against signing the contracts, but the Queensland Government seems determined to push ahead with its agenda of putting the needs of health bureaucrats ahead of those of the Queensland public.
The loss of senior doctors will have a huge impact on the quality of care in Queensland’s public hospitals including:
- longer waits in emergency departments,
- longer waiting lists for surgery, and
- the loss of training for the next generation of doctors.
Leaving the Queensland public health system is not a decision that no doctor would take lightly, but the government’s push to downgrade conditions will force our doctors’ hands.
It’s our specialists in the firing line – those who run emergency departments, provide world best care and train the next generation of doctors coming into the Queensland system. We can’t afford to lose them from our public health system.
Stand up for your public health system and our doctors by showing your support for the Keep Our Doctors campaign.
Want more detail on the contracts? See the FAQs here
2014 AMA National Conference in Canberra
The 2014 AMA National Conference will be held at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, from 23-25 May inclusive.
With the theme, Global Practice: Australian Perspective, the Conference will feature prominent national and international speakers including the Minister for Health, The Hon Peter Dutton MP; Shadow Minister for Health, The Hon Catherine King MP; US Ambassador The Hon John Berry; World Medical Association President, Dr Margaret Mungherera; former Chair of the National Preventative Health Taskforce, Professor Rob Moodie; and Mike Daube, public health advocate and Professor of Health Policy at Curtin University.
Policy Sessions include:
- The Global Challenge on Non-Communicable Diseases
- Practising Globally: Regional Challenges
- Overseas Training Access for Junior Doctors
- Variation in Medical Practice: Are Australians Getting World Class Health Care
- Overseas Conflicts and Disasters: The Challenge of Caring for Those Who Serve
To view the AMA National Website Conference Page click here.
There will be an election for a new AMA President on Sunday, 25 May.
Michael Ferguson is State Health Minister
30th March 2014: Premier Elect Will Hodgman announced today his new Cabinet after counting from the state election was finalised this week. The Liberals with 15 seats have announced a 9 person cabinet with 2 Parliamentary Secretaries. Mr Michael Ferguson has taken on the Health Ministry. Click to see the full ABC Article.
Parties fall short on AMA Tasmania election agenda
While the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Tasmania has welcomed Labor, Liberal and the Greens health election commitments, the policies still fall short of delivering on all the priorities the AMA had called for to provide better health outcomes for all Tasmanians. AMA Tasmanian President Dr John Davis said the 2014 AMA election agenda outlined the six key priority areas for the state’s health system and it was disappointing that the parties had not committed to more of these health priorities in their respective policies.
“The AMA has called on the creation of a single funding model for health, a long-term health strategy, more frontline staff, better graduate training opportunities, greater efficiency and more coal face consultation with clinicians and general practitioners,” Dr Davis said. “We have on numerous occasions highlighted the need for an urgent redesign of the state’s health system, including funding structures at state and federal levels to ensure a sustainable foundation for Tasmania’s health sector.
“It is heartening to see the Liberals appear to at least be prepared to consider moving towards a single funding option and while Labor is not opposed to the proposition, we are yet to see concrete proposals on how this would happen from either party.
Helipad required at the RHH
Helipad delay putting NW lives at risk: AMA By LIBBY BINGHAM at the Advocate
Regional areas given raw deal on access to Hobart hospital
THE LIVES of sick babies and other critically ill patients from the North-West are being put at risk because of a decision to delay the construction of a helipad at the Royal Hobart Hospital, the Australian Medical Association has warned.
AMA Tasmania vice-president Dr Tim Greenaway said a significant number of patients from the North West and the North were being airlifted to the RHH every year, including newborns, and with increased demand for a quick air service to help regional and rural patients in times of crisis, the need for a RHH helipad was crucial to a patient's well-being, and in some cases, survival.
The North West Regional Hospital and the Launceston General Hospital both have helipads for rapid helicopter retrievals.
Dr Greenaway said patients from regional and rural areas were not being given the fair access to the RHH they should have.
More Doctors needed in Tasmania
5th March 2014: Tasmania urgently needs more frontline medical staff, increased competitive working conditions to ensure doctors stay in the state, as well as improved graduate training and job opportunities for young doctors.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) Tasmania is calling on a commitment from all political parties and politicians in the next parliament to address these issues in the lead up to the state election on 15 March.
AMA Tasmania President Dr John Davis said the government was spending too much on inefficient practices instead of tackling the real issue of adequately funding the health sector and offering competitive packages to attract and retain qualified medical students and doctors. Click here for the media release.
AMA calls for better health outcomes for all Tasmanians
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) Tasmania has called on all political parties to pledge to six simple reforms of the state’s health system to ensure better health outcomes for all Tasmanians in the lead up to the 2014 state election.
AMA Tasmania President Dr John Davis said health was the cornerstone of any state government’s responsibility to its community, and there needed to be a bi-partisan political commitment to health that went beyond the three to four year political cycle.
“The hallmark of the health system in Tasmania has been political point scoring, confused policies and a lack of a clear, consistent strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians,” Dr Davis said.
“This is why we are calling for the creation of a single funding model for health, a long term health strategy, more frontline staff, better graduate training opportunities, greater efficiency and more coal face consultation with clinicians and general practitioners.
“We all know the cost of health care is continually on the rise and while more dollars in the system will always help, part of our strategy is to work harder with less.
“Working harder with less means we must coordinate how we spend our health dollars, and having different funding sources spread across state and federal governments, as well as a raft of other bodies in the middle, only results in money wasted.
“The current funding system not only creates confusion and an overlap of services, it also means there are huge gaps in the system because of responsibility being passed from one funder to another.”
Dr Davis said a single funding source and a long term health strategy that went beyond the three or four year electoral process, would result in a great opportunity to provide real health benefits to the Tasmanian community.
“A long term plan would help establish clear and consistent goals, instead of being changed as one government goes, a huge amount of time and effort could be saved,” he said.
“Part of this plan must include consulting more with those people in the health system who work at the coal face.
“Local GPs are close to their communities and they know what they need when it comes to their health needs, yet they are overlooked when it comes to identifying solutions that actually work in the real world.
“Add to this better post graduate training, job opportunities for young doctors and more competitive working conditions and Tasmania could create a health system that can focus on excellence, instead of struggling on a day-to-day basis just to fill vital roles.”
Dr Davis said the initiatives, coupled with better efficiencies in the sector, could mean the money spent in health could be used on the important things to ensure health outcomes for all Tasmanians.
“This plan isn’t rocket science; it’s about coming up with better solutions to current problems and working harder with less to ensure we achieve better health outcomes,” he said.
“It’s a pivotal time for Tasmania’s health system and importantly our public hospitals in the lead up to the 2014 state election.
“This election is about the next Tasmanian government committing to all elements that ensure the delivery of high quality health care to all Tasmanians, within clinically appropriate timeframes.”
AMA Tasmania 2014 state election agenda can be viewed here.
For more information or interviews: Lucinda Bray at Font PR Phone: 0438 280 486 or (03) 6223 3333 or email email@example.com
TIME FOR A NATIONAL SUMMIT ON ALCOHOL MISUSE AND HARMS - AMA
23rd January 2014: The AMA is today calling on the Federal Government to convene a National Summit to discuss and assess the evidence and develop effective national solutions to the epidemic of alcohol misuse and harms afflicting local communities right across the nation.
AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said the AMA wants the Government to bring together representatives of all Australian governments, local councils, community leaders, medical and health experts, police, teachers, industry, parent groups, families of victims, and other stakeholders to develop practical nationally-consistent solutions and policies to tackle the harms of excess alcohol use that affect many Australians.
“We have a major national problem that requires a major national solution,” Dr Hambleton said.
“The NSW Government has this week introduced some very tough and very welcome new laws to address alcohol-related violence on the streets of Sydney, and we now have to look at the broader harmful effects of alcohol misuse in every corner of the country.
“The mood of the Australian community on this issue warrants a broad discussion that can introduce solutions that governments need to act on as soon as possible.
“The harmful consumption of alcohol is a complex problem that cuts across different levels of government and many portfolios.
“The AMA wants a whole-of-government approach from all governments that looks at harm minimisation, the marketing of alcohol and how young people are exposed to this marketing, pricing and taxation, venue licensing and opening hours.
“But any policy and regulation must be informed by everyday community experience – from police, doctors and other health professionals, drug and alcohol services, teachers, and the families who suffer from alcohol addiction, misuse, and the associated violence and illness.
“A National Summit, convened by the Federal Government, would bring together the experience, the expertise, and the passion to bring about much-needed meaningful change to Australia’s alcohol ‘culture’.”
Dr Hambleton said that the extent of alcohol-related harms is placing enormous strain on the frontline health system and emergency services.
“A recent survey from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine shows that one in seven emergency department visits on a Saturday night are alcohol related, and in some areas the rate is as high as one in three.
“On average, one in four hospitalisations of young people aged 15-24 years occurs because of alcohol.
“Hospital emergency staff are regularly confronted with the acute and chronic complications of alcohol.”
Dr Hambleton said the AMA is very concerned about the effects of alcohol on young people.
“One in five Australians aged 14 years and above drink at a level that puts them at risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over their lifetime.
“One in three 14 to 19 year olds drink alcohol in a way that places them at risk of an alcohol-related injury from a single drinking occasion at least once a month.
“Young Australians are exposed to an unprecedented level of alcohol marketing and promotions, and there is strong evidence that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising, the earlier they start drinking, the more they drink, and the more alcohol-related harm they experience.
“The AMA is pushing for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the marketing of alcohol to young people, and we strongly support the Australian Greens’ proposal for a wide-ranging Senate Inquiry into alcohol,” Dr Hambleton said.
Levels of excess alcohol consumption in Australia
- One in five Australians consume alcohol at levels that put them at risk of lifetime harm from injury or disease; two in five Australians consume alcohol at levels that put them at risk of short-term harm at least once a year.
- More than half (52per cent) of Australian drinkers consume alcohol in excess of the Australian Guidelines, with 26 per cent drinking more than the recommended maximum of two standard drinks per day. One in six Australian drinkers consume more than 11 drinks per occasion on a monthly basis.
- One in three 14 to 19 year olds drink alcohol in a way that places them at risk of an alcohol-related injury from a single drinking occasion at least once a month.
- Many young people drink to get drunk; 45 per cent of current drinks aged 16 to 17 years report intending to get drunk on most or every occasion when they drink alcohol.
- Three quarters of Australians believe that Australia has a problem with excess drinking or alcohol abuse.
The health, social and economic costs of alcohol consumption
- The cost of alcohol-related harm in Australia, including harms caused by someone else's drinking, is estimated to be between $15 billion and $36 billion a year. This includes costs to the health system, law enforcement, lost productivity in the workplace, and the pain, suffering and harms to drinkers and those around them. Harms to others include violence, injury, crime and car crashes.
- Every year, alcohol consumption is responsible for over 11,000 hospitalisations among young people aged 15-24 years. Each week, approximately one death and 65 hospitalisations among the under-aged (14-17 years) are attributed to alcohol.
- Alcohol has been causally linked to at least 60 different medical conditions. Longer term health problems associated with risky alcohol use include liver damage, heart damage, and increased risk of some cancers.
- There is growing concern about the impact of alcohol on young peoples’ development. Heavy drinking at a young age can adversely affect brain development and is linked to alcohol-related problems in later life.
- Alcohol is a greater factor than speed, fatigue, weather or road conditions in fatal road crashes in Australia and is responsible for more than a third of road deaths.
- Teenagers who drink alcohol to excess are much more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour, including having unprotected sex, multiple partners and sex they later regret.
Physical assaults and domestic violence
- One in 20 Australians aged 14 years and over have been physically abused by someone under the influence of alcohol; one in four Australians have been a victim of alcohol-related verbal abuse.
- The association between domestic violence and problematic alcohol use is well established. There is strong evidence that the level of harm associated with domestic violence increases, and results in graver injuries, when alcohol is involved. In addition, an abuser’s frequency of intoxication, binge drinking or problem drinking is more closely associated with severity of domestic violence and possibility for injury of a victim, than drinking per se.
- The density of alcohol outlets correlates with the rate of domestic violence. An analysis of alcohol outlet density found a strong relationship between alcohol availability and domestic violence; packaged liquor outlets that sell alcohol for off-premise consumption were particularly implicated.
- The ABS report that, among women who have experienced an assault from a male perpetrator in the preceding 12 months, nearly half (49 per cent) state that alcohol or drugs are a contributing factor. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found that 41 per cent of all incidents of domestic assault reported to the police between 2001 and 2010 were alcohol related. This percentage varied, however, and was as high as 62 per cent in Far Western NSW.
- Nearly half (44 per cent) of all intimate-partner homicides are alcohol related; the majority (87per cent) of Indigenous intimate-partner homicides were alcohol related.
- In a NSW study, two-thirds of patients presenting at an emergency department with injuries from interpersonal violence reported having consumed alcohol prior to the incident; three-quarters of these patients stated that they had been drinking at licensed premises.
- Conservative estimates suggest that the total annual costs of alcohol-related crime in Australia is at least $1.7b; the annual social cost relating to alcohol-related violence (which excludes costs to the criminal justice system) is $187m; and the costs associated with the loss of life due to alcohol-related violent crime amounts to $124m.
AMA TO CALL FOR NATIONAL ACTION ON ALCOHOL
23rd January 2014: The Federal AMA will tomorrow make a call for concerted national action on alcohol harms, building on this week’s announcement by the NSW Government to introduce strong measures to curb alcohol- and substance-fuelled violence.
AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, AMA NSW President, A/Prof Brian Owler, and AMA Victoria President, Dr Stephen Parnis, will hold a media conference in Sydney to outline practical measures to tackle the alcohol misuse and related harms that affect all Australians.
Dr Hambleton said today that a broad review of the harms of alcohol misuse in the community is needed, including an inquiry into alcohol marketing (especially the exposure to young people) and an examination of the impacts on the health system.
“Doctors across Australia every day have to deal with the broken bodies, shattered lives, and family tragedy related to alcohol,” Dr Hambleton said.
A recent survey by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) showed that one in seven cases in Australian emergency departments are linked to alcohol, with one in three cases being alcohol-related in some ‘hot spots’.
Professor Dobb, A/Prof Owler, and Dr Parnis will discuss their experiences with patients admitted to hospital due to the effects of alcohol and the impact these patients have on hospital resources.
Professor Dobb is a Specialist in Intensive Care at Royal Perth Hospital, which has the State Major Trauma Unit. Every week, he directs the care of people severely injured by alcohol-fuelled violence, car crash drivers affected by alcohol, and people who took risks they would never take when sober.
A/Prof Owler is a Consultant Neurosurgeon at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Norwest Private Hospital and Westmead Private, and Sydney Adventist Hospital at Wahroonga. He is the face of the RTA/NSW AMA Road Safety 'Don't Rush' campaign.
Dr Parnis is a Consultant Emergency Physician in Melbourne who has worked in the Major Trauma Centre. He sees the complete spectrum of presentations related to the harms of alcohol, including road trauma, self-harm, domestic and other violence, and the complications of alcohol-related cirrhosis.
AMA Media Conference:
Date: Thursday, 23 January 2014
Venue: AMA NSW Conference Centre
Ground Floor, 69 Christie Street
ACCC proposes to re-authorise collective negotiations by the AMA
22nd January 2014:The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a draft determination proposing to re-authorise a collective bargaining arrangement put forward by the Australian Medical Association (AMA)* for ten years. The collective bargaining arrangements allow each relevant state and territory AMA to negotiate on behalf of general practitioners who provide services in public hospitals and health facilities in rural and remote areas. “Collective negotiation can deliver reduced transaction costs. A single negotiation and sharing these cost savings should provide more effective input into contracts,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said. Click here for more.
State Election begins: AMA calls for policy commitments in wake of State Election announcement
16th January 2014: In response to the announcement that the 2014 State Election will be held on 15 March, the AMA is calling for health policy commitments from all political parties. AMA spokesperson A/Prof Tim Greenaway said the AMA was seeking assurance from all parties in the lead up to the election that they would work towards obtaining a single funder model for the delivery of health care in Tasmania. “We are also calling for a commitment to ensuring the retention and recruitment of local doctors and a satisfactory conclusion to salary negotiations with Tasmanian doctors,” A/Prof Tim Greenaway said.
“During the State Election campaign the AMA will be lobbying vigorously for commitments to these key issues for patient care in Tasmania.” Click here for the release.
Doctors have criticised a proposal to charge $6 GP fee
6th January 2014: Doctors have criticised a proposal to charge a fee for every GP visit, saying it risked placing greater pressure on public hospitals. The Abbott government is refusing to rule out a $6 fee for GP visits in a bid to rein in health spending, sparking fears that it will ultimately end Medicare and affordable healthcare. The proposal would save the government $750 million over a four-year period by forcing patients who are presently bulk-billed to make so-called co-payments.
Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said on Monday any change which would deter people from seeing a doctor would lead to more people using ambulances and presenting at hospital emergency departments when their health problems got more serious. ''I think we've got to identify what the problem is that we're trying to solve,'' Dr Hambleton said.
Dr Hambleton said if the federal government wanted to address rising health costs, it needed to better treat chronic disease to keep people out of hospital.
Link to Story. Click here