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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.”
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