Healthcare Atlas reveals Australians receiving different levels of treatments despite similar conditions

IBTimes, 27 November 2015
Author: Darwin Malicdem
“Many Australians across the country are receiving different levels of treatment and intervention despite having similar health conditions. This comes from the first-ever Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation showing the largely “likely to be unwarranted” differences in rates of medical and surgical interventions provided across the country.”
Find article here.

Doctors call for target to close gap on indigenous incarceration rates

SMH, 25 November 2015
Author: Jane Lee
“Doctors are calling on the Turnbull government to set a national target for closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous imprisonment rates. The Australian Medical Association said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, who were less likely to have seen a GP or health service provider before being incarcerated, were often only diagnosed with chronic health conditions?, including mental health and substance abuse problems and cognitive disabilities, when they entered prison.”
Find article here.

Pot users exempt from e-cigarette law

Toronto Sun, 25 November 2015
Author: Antonella Artuso
“Medical marijuana users will be exempt from a Jan. 1 law that will ban the use of e-cigarettes anywhere tobacco smoking is prohibited. Ontario Associate Health Minister said those who have been authorized to use pot for treatment of a health condition will be allowed to vape in places that normally do not allow smoking. The new exemption for medical marijuana would still permit owners of restaurants, municipalities and employers to prohibit its use on their property.”
Find article here.

Medical tourism needs rules, says legal expert to speak in Vancouver

Vancouver Sun, 25 November 2015
Author: Erin Ellis
“Medical tourism is not only bringing ethical questions home with returning patients, but also higher costs to fix botched procedures or antibiotic resistant infections, says an international expert in the field. Most medical tourists seek procedures that are legal in both the patient’s home country and the clinic location — dental treatment, joint replacements or cosmetic surgery — and the decision to travel is based on getting quicker, cheaper services. a Harvard law professor says North Americans need to take a hard look at the consequences of millions of trips taken outside their countries each year for medical or dental treatment.”
Find article here.

Halting spread of HIV demands mix of law, health policy

The Globe and Mail, 23 November 2015
Author: Peter McKnight
“The law, particularly in Canada, does seem to reward people for remaining ignorant about their HIV status. Canadians living with the virus that causes AIDS can be charged with, and convicted of, aggravated sexual assault – the most serious form of sexual assault – if they fail to reveal their HIV status to their sexual partners. But ignorance, remember, is bliss. And that, unfortunately, is nowhere more true than in a court of law. Want to shield yourself from the threat of criminal prosecution for spreading HIV? Then don’t get tested for the virus.”
Find article here.

‘Instagram for doctors’ healthcare app may risk patient privacy

SMH, 26 November 2015
Author: Amy Mitchell-Whittington
“More than half a million healthcare professionals are sharing their medical cases via an app likened to an Instagram for doctors, but grave concerns are held for patient privacy and confidentiality. The app, Figure 1, was set up in 2013 and is a platform for healthcare professionals to upload and share images of medical cases with other professionals for feedback, education, teaching and research.”
Find article here.

Indigenous health expenditure deficits obscured in Closing the Gap reports

MJA, 16 November 2015
Author: Katrina A Alford
“Indigenous health expenditure trends are obscured amid myriad medical indicators and reports on Indigenous Australians’ health. The Australian Government’s Closing the Gap strategy seeks health equality for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples. However, neglecting the economics of the strategy perpetuates poor system performance as financial and resource constraints on individuals, and increasingly on the public health system, are ignored.”
Find article here.

Safe Access Zones To Protect Women’s Right To Medical Privacy And Dignity

Minister for Health Victoria, statement 27 November 2015
“Victorian women will now be able to access lawful medical services free from harassment and intimidation following the passage of legislation to establish safe access zones around abortion providers.  The Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zone) Bill 2015 today formally passed the Victorian Legislative Council without amendment.”
Find statement here.

Victoria’s 10-Year Mental Health Plan Launched

Minister for Mental Health Victoria, statement 27 November 2015
* Government releases 10 Year Mental Health Plan for Victoria
* Priorities include suicide prevention, Aboriginal well-being and a workforce strategy
* Plan focuses on prevention, with nearly half of all Victorians experiencing mental illness in their lifetime
Find statement here and plan here.

A new blueprint for mental health services

Australian Government Minister for Health, statement 26 November 2015
“Today the Turnbull Government releases its response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programme and Services.  The response sets out a bold reform package that will put the individual needs of patients at the centre of our mental health system.”
Find statement here and full response here.  Find related statements from Mental Health Australia statement ‘Mental health reform starts today‘, AMA statement ‘Big questions hang over mental health reforms‘, RDAA statement ‘Mental health reform package cautiously welcomed by rural doctors‘.
Find ABC coverage ‘Mental health system changes: What you need to know‘, and The Guardian coverage ‘Mental health advocates welcome revamp but warn some may miss out‘.