Australia: Health Alert - 13 December 2010

Last Updated: 13 December 2010
Article by Kerry Hogan-Ross

13 December 2010

Welcome to this week's edition of Health Alert. The Health Alert is transmitted on Monday of each week (unless there is a public holiday on Monday).

Health Alert is a summary of the critical judgments, legislation, press releases and news items which have come to our attention each week.  Many of the summaries will contain a hyperlink.

If an item is of special interest, we may insert commentary into the body of Health Alert.  However in general, Health Alert is a quick and effective means of ensuring that you are aware of significant recent changes with little or no commentary from us.

If you would like to include a colleague or contact on our distribution list, or be removed from the list and not receive further issues from us, please contact Legal Updates at legal.updates@dlaphillipsfox.com with the relevant contact details.

The DLA Phillips Fox Health Team

Judgments

New South Wales. Administrative Decisions Tribunal

TU v AMI Australia Holdings Pty Ltd t/as Advanced Medical Institute [2010] NSWADT 290

Disability Discrimination; HIV; public health

A man consulted the company to seek treatment for erectile dysfunction, disclosing that he was HIV positive to the nurse who carried out his health assessment.  The nurse suggested the man was an appropriate candidate for treatment, both injection and gel, and was subsequently instructed by a doctor to accept the man into the treatment program.  The man did not receive the gel as promised and was later informed by a supervisor at the company that he was 'no longer suitable for the treatment program' due to his HIV status on the basis of new legislation.  The man alleged that the company engaged in discriminatory conduct against him on non-existent legal and medical grounds.  He sought damages and a refund of the payment he had already made to receive treatment.

The Tribunal noted the man suffered from a disability under section 4(1)(b) of the Anti Discrimination Act (NSW) 1997 ('Act') as he was HIV positive, and that he was refused (injectable) treatment due to his disability.  They noted that HIV was a serious infectious disease with public health implications, but rejected the argument that the refusal of the service by the company (through its employees) was 'reasonably necessary to protect public health' pursuant to section 49P of the Act.  The Tribunal found this discriminatory as the risk of the man spreading HIV to another or the community at large was minimal.  This was due to the man's undetectable viral load (not highly infectious), minimal quantity of blood that would be drawn for the treatment, his responsibility, intelligence and safe-sex practice including covering the puncture site of the injectable treatment with a condom.

The Tribunal felt that the primary reason behind the company's discriminatory act was a fear of litigation rather than to protect public interest. They awarded the man general damages of $30,000 for the act of discrimination (causing pain and suffering and embarrassment) and a refund for payments already made for treatment.

South Australia. Coroner

GEORGE, Irene Thelma

Legislation

New South Wales

Public Health Act 2010 No. 127  - assented to on 07/12/2010. Replaces Public Health Act 1991

Reports

Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

  • 10 December 2010- MyHospitals – Shining a light on Australian Hospitals-The MyHospitals website, which gives the community clear, comparable and user-friendly information about the services and the performance of their local hospital, was launched on 10 December.
  • 09 December 2010- $1.5m for Innovative Community-Based Dementia Projects-Applications are being sought from groups and organisations for funding for projects that increase awareness of dementia in local communities.
  • 09 December 2010- Early Successes in Efforts to 'Close the Gap'-A new report on the Australian Government's multi-million dollar commitment to tackling chronic disease in Indigenous communities shows positive progress is being made.
  •  09 December 2010- Fight against cancer continues with new additions to the PBS -The Australian Government has announced a huge boost to the fight against cancer and other life-threatening conditions with the listing of nicotine patches for low-income Australians and more support for men with prostate conditions – along with other important additions to the life saving drugs program.
  • 09 December 2010- New Director for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare-Mr David Kalisch has been appointed the new Director of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • 08 December 2010- Big Boost to Aged Care Places-Australia's older people will gain twelve 272 new aged care places, worth more than $450 million a year, from allocations in the 2009-10 Aged Care Approvals Round.
  • 08 December 2010- Increase in Elective Surgery Operations Rewarded by the Commonwealth-For the first time, the Australian Government will reward states and territories with $108 million for exceeding targets to increase elective surgery operations, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, have announced.
  • 08 December 2010- Minister for Ageing visits Goodwin Monash-Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler has visited Goodwin's Ralph Cartwright Centre in Monash to present staff training awards and turn the first seed for a new residential aged care home.
  • 08 December 2010- National Workforce Launched to Tackle Indigenous Smoking and Improve Health-Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, has launched a new workforce featuring 82 new positions to help reduce smoking and help improve nutrition and physical activity in Indigenous communities across the country.
  • 07 December 2010- More than $5 Billion in Applications for Regional Health-More than 230 applications totalling over $5 billion from regional and remote Australia have been received for the 'regional priority round' of the Australian Government's Health and Hospitals Fund (HHF).
  • 06 December 2010- Party Safe this Summer-Festival-goers will be targeted this summer as part of the Australian Government's National Drugs Campaign to combat illicit drug use. The latest phase of the National Drugs Campaign will be promoted through the popular In the Mix website, the go-to site for the summer music festival program.
  • 03 December 2010- Another Step Taken to Help Keep Communities Healthy-The Department of Health and Ageing is seeking organisations or consortia to manage the Healthy Communities Quality Framework registration process and information portal.
  • 03 December 2010- Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council - Joint Communique - Food Ministers briefed on progress of historic Food Labelling Review -The health implications of caffeinated energy drinks, improvement of public awareness of the nutrition content of take-away food and recent international developments and efforts made by Australian and New Zealand industry in phasing out the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) chemicals in baby bottles and food containers were among topics discussed at a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council in Adelaide today.
  • 03 December 2010- GP Super Clinics: Boosting Primary Care Options for Australians-Making it easier for Australians to see and contact a health professional when they need to is a priority for the Australian Government, and GP Super Clinics form a central component of the Government's efforts to address a shortage of services across the community.

MyHospitals website launched - Australians can now access nationally consistent, locally relevant information on public hospitals and around 150 private hospitals, with the launch of the new MyHospitals website.

Private Health Insurance Circular - PHI 87/10 - Hospital Information

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

Advisory Committee on Prescription Medicines (updated ACPM Pharmaceutical subcommittee (PSC) members)

Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines (added 2011 meeting dates)

Proposed standards for human blood and blood components, human tissues and human cellular therapy products (new)

Scheduling of medicines and poisons: Delegate's decisions, December 2010 (new)

National Coordinating Committee on Therapeutic Goods (NCCTG) (updated members)

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines  - Teriparatide & Zomacton

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

Impacts of Climate Change on Health - Research Funding 3 December 2010 - The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, has announced funding for three climate change adaptation and health research projects under the Health Challenges of Climate Change special initiative. - View Media Release

Aged care packages in the community 2008-09: a statistical overview - At 30 June 2009, over 44,000 people were receiving help from a community aged care package, including just over 23,300 new admissions during 2008-09. The findings suggest that proportionate to ... Published 9 December 2010.

Residential aged care in Australia 2008-09 - Residential aged care in Australia 2008-09 provides comprehensive statistical information on residential aged care facilities and services, their residents, admissions and separations, and residents' dependency levels. At 30 June 2009, there were ... Published 9 December 2010.

General practice activity in Australia 2000-01 to 2009-10: 10 year data tables - This report presents results from the most recent 10 years (April 2000 to March 2010) of the BEACH program, a national cross-sectional study of general practice activity. During this time ... Published 8 December 2010.

General practice activity in Australia 2009-10 - This report presents results from the twelfth year of BEACH program, a national study of general practice activity. From April 2009 to March 2010, 988 general practitioners recorded data about ... Published 8 December 2010.

Young people and children in social housing - This bulletin presents information about the young population assisted by social housing and crisis accommodation. It describes the households in which children and young people reside in social housing and ... Published 7 December 2010.

Family social network: development of a Children's Headline Indicator - A strong family social network provides access to support and resources, and is linked to better outcomes for children's health, development and wellbeing. This report describes the process of developing ... Published 6 December 2010.

Shelter: development of a Children's Headline Indicator - Access to stable, adequate shelter plays a major role in the health and wellbeing of families, and in particular children, by providing a safe environment, the security that allows participation ... Published 6 December 2010.

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

07 December 2010 - Media Release of National Launch of Windows into Safety and Quality in Health Care 2010

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

Corporate Plan 2010-2012 - Act Health - The ACT Health Corporate Plan (2010-2012) gives strategic direction to ACT Health business units to support the achievement of ACT Health's overarching organisational vision and corporate values. The vision for the Plan is "your health our priority". The Plan has seven key performance areas - Consumer Experience; Sustainability; Hospital and Related Care; Prevention; Social Inclusion and Indigenous Health; Community Based Health; and Aged Care. ACT Health-Wide - Chief ExecutiveCED10-033 Act Health Corporate Plan 2010-12 (PDF)

Digital Health Enterprise Technology Strategy And Implementation Plan - The Digital Health Enterprise (DHE) technology strategy and implementation plan outlines how technology will support and enable ACT Health's transformation programme (Your health – our priority). The transformation programme is developing new service delivery methods and models so that ACT Health can continue providing quality health services in an environment of rapidly rising demand. The transformation programme encompasses new models of care, new and refurbished facilities, workforce planning and enhanced technology capabilities. ACT Health-Wide - Information Services BranchCED10-034 Digital Health Enterprise Technology Strategy And Implementation Plan And Appendices (PDF File 13508k)

Safety And Quality Framework 2010-2015 - Act Health - The ACT Health Safety and Quality Framework describes a vision and direction to improve safety and quality in ACT Health, and sets out the key activities that will be happening throughout the organisation to improve the safety and quality of the service provided to consumers. It includes a summary of safety and quality systems, an outline of the safety and quality governance structure, the education plan to support safety and quality and the Plan outlining specific areas that ACT Health will focus on to improve safety and quality as we move towards 2015. ACT Health-Wide - Chief ExecutiveCED10-035 Safety and Quality Framework 2010-2015 (PDF File 152k)

Endorsed (authorised) Enrolled Nurse Medication Administration Policy - Medication management is an important part of nursing and midwifery practice that relies on professional and clinical judgement which is underpinned by the appropriate skills, knowledge and competencies, applied in the context of individual, organisational, social, cultural and religious considerations. This policy sits within a professional framework that facilitates a consistent, safe and effective approach for medication administration by authorised (medication endorsed) enrolled nurses in the ACT. Administration of medications by EENs aligns with relevant legislation, workplace policies, guidelines and procedures. ACT Health-Wide - Chief ExecutiveCED10-036 Endorsed Authorised Enrolled Nurse Medication Administration Policy - Sop (PDF File 205k)

Nursing And Midwifery Continuing Competence Policy - This policy brings together a number of local policies and guidelines to support this requirement. It has been compiled with input from various agencies within the ACT including the Australian Nursing Federation (ACT Branch), ACT Nursing and Midwifery Board, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, Canberra Hospital, Calvary Health Care (Public) and consumer groups. Implementation of an ACT Health policy framework for nursing and midwifery competence would reduce duplication within each division, therefore leading to clearer governance and direction for all clinicians and administrators in relation to professional competency requirements. ACT Health-Wide - Chief ExecutiveCED10-038 Nursing And Midwifery Continuing Competence Policy (PDF File 179k) - Nursing And Midwifery Continuing Competence Policy - Sop (PDF File 178k)

New South Wales. Department of Health

Media release

Policy directive

Information bulletin

Northern Territory. Department of Health & Families

Media releases

South Australia. Health & Community Services Complaints Commissioner

HCSCC's 5th annual report 29 November 2010 - HCSCC's fifth annual report 2009-10 was provided to the Minister for Health, the Hon John Hill, on 12 November 2010. The Minister will table the report in the SA Parliament in 2011. HCSCC has requested the Minister's approval to publicly release the report before 31 December 2010. Meanwhile a Buzz summary of HCSCC's work in 2009-10 is now available. 2009-10 Buzz annual report summary

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media release

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

10 December 2010: Regulatory Impact Statement: Increase to the rate of Personal Allowance for older people in subsidised residential care - This Regulatory Impact Statement provides an analysis of options for increasing the Personal Allowance for older people in subsidised residential care. The timing and size of an increase is affected by the temporary GST compensation that will be paid from 1 October 2010 to 31 March 2011.

7 December 2010: Hospital-based Maternity Events 2007 - This report is the third in a series of on-line publications reporting on hospital maternity data as record in the National Minimum Dataset. The publication includes maternal and newborn demographic information as well as some clinical and procedural data associated with birth event.

7 December 2010: Cancer Trends: Trends in Cancer Incidence by Ethnic and Socioeconomic Group, New Zealand 1981–2004 - The report finds wide and generally increasing ethnic (and, to a lesser extent, socioeconomic) inequalities in tobacco-related cancer incidence. Inequalities in non-tobacco-related cancer incidence were smaller and trends were more variable.

6 December 2010: Regulatory Impact Statement: Better Retail Controls on Tobacco: Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Bill - This Regulatory Impact Statement provides an analysis of options to deal with the problems caused by continuing to allow tobacco displays in retail outlets. Some related issues with the current regulatory controls for tobacco retail are also considered.

6 December 2010: Five new drinking-water publications - Latest drinking-water publications from the Ministry of Health, which provides resources for people who own, operate or are upgrading an existing small water supply (serving less than 5000 people), or who intend to develop a new supply.

New Zealand. Mental Health Commission

7 December 2010, our latest Annual Report

United Kingdom. Department of Health

Valuing People Now Summary Report March 2009 - September 2010

Local innovations in wheelchair and seating services

United States. Department of Health & Human Services

EXPOSURE TO TOBACCO SMOKE CAUSES IMMEDIATE DAMAGE, SAYS NEW SURGEON GENERAL'S REPORT  - Exposure to tobacco smoke – even occasional smoking or second-hand smoke – causes immediate damage to your body that can lead to serious illness or death, according to a report released today by U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin. The comprehensive scientific report - Benjamin's first Surgeon General's report and the 30th tobacco-related Surgeon General's report issued since 1964 - describes specific pathways by which tobacco smoke damages the human body and leads to disease and death.

Canada. Health Canada

Harper Government Launches New Website to Assist Parents [2010-12-03]

Australian Medical Association

Nicotine patch PBS listing will help low income Australians quit smoking 9 December 2010 - 2:30pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the listing of nicotine patches on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) would help thousands of Australians quit their killer smoking habit. Dr Pesce said that the decision would especially benefit people in lower socio-economic status groups who tend to have higher smoking rates than the general population.

Pathology services must be protected 7 December 2010 - 1:40pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the Government must be cautious and consultative when seeking changes to the way pathology services are provided to the Australian community. Dr Pesce said that amendments to the Health Insurance Amendment (Pathology Requests) Bill 2010, agreed to by the Government last week, averted a situation where patient safety and quality care may have been compromised. While the original Bill may have been well-intentioned by allowing patients to choose their own pathology provider, the amendments ensure that where a treating medical practitioner requires a test from a particular pathology provider for valid clinical or practical reasons, the specified pathology provider will conduct the test.

AMA Submission to Podiatry Board of Australia on Guidelines for Endorsement for Scheduled Medicines 3 December 2010 - 2:00pm - The AMA has made a submission to the Podiatry Board of Australia's consultation process on proposed revisions to their prescribing standards for podiatrists.  This submission, which is consistent with previous AMA submissions on this issue to the Podiatry Board, highlights the deficiencies in the Guidelines with respect to course content and accreditation, shared care arrangements and expansion of the national drugs list.

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DLA Phillips Fox is one of the largest legal firms in Australasia and a member of DLA Piper Group, an alliance of independent legal practices. It is a separate and distinct legal entity. For more information visit www.dlaphillipsfox.com

This publication is intended as a first point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances.

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