Australian Medical News Brief April 2017

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Welcome to Medshop Australia’s monthly series, News Brief, where we talk about what you may have missed. These are mostly articles we’ve posted in our social media news feeds. We consider them the most newsworthy events in Australian health and medicine from the last month. You will find links to the original articles.

Let’s look back and review the top stories from April.


Govt to build on 'no jab no pay' policy

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As reported by Yahoo News Australia, the government is set to roll out a 5.5 million dollar immunisation awareness program, in a bid to increase immunisation rates.

This latest initiative builds on the government's "no jab, no pay" policy which resulted in an additional 200,000 plus children across Australia receiving their immunisations.

The new three-year campaign will be targeted in locations where vaccination rates can be as low as 64%.

The current national immunisation rate is 93% and the campaign will counter the misinformation spouted by anti-vaccination groups.

The government's strategy involves using a range of advertising platforms and direct engagement at over 11,000 childcare centres across Australia.


Scientists Want To Do Some Incredible Physics Using Australia's Scrapped Medical Equipment

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As reported by Gizmodo, an old retired MRI machine from a Brisbane hospital, has been purchased by a group of CERN physicists for a cool $211,450.

The physicists are working on the project known as ISOLDE and they required the specific kind of magnet that is found in the MRI machine.

After looking into building their own magnet from scratch and realising the costs involved, the purchased MRI from Brisbane has saved them over a million dollars, not to mention the benefits of recycling.

Most scrap metal doesn't go on to be used in an attempt to understand the secrets of the universe.

The physicists hope to use the magnet to understand the nature of nuclei, the centre of every atom. This will be able to provide insights into the nuclear reactions happening inside supernovae and will contribute to expanding our understanding on nuclei as we know it.


Beyond bullying: A Melbourne University medical student's personal account

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As reported by Independent Australia, a medical student at the University of Melbourne has published their personal account of institutionalised bullying and abuse at the hands of university medical staff.

This adds fuel to the situation that is so dire that the Senate is holding a second hearing to examine an unprecedented number of complaints alleging institutional abuse of Australian healthcare workers.

The account tells of the success of the student who completed a Ph.D. through Monash University prior to commencing medical school with the University of Melbourne. The student progressed through pre-clinical medical school training successfully, then things took a turn for the worse upon commencing clinical school.

Allegedly, a senior staff member bullied the student for having a mild speech impediment and told they needed to cure their speech impediment completely, or they would be failed on the basis of communication skills.

To fully appreciate the complexity of the situation, please read the direct account through the link above.

We appreciate that there is more than one side to every story, and the University of Melbourne has not yet released a statement about this. There are many accounts of bullying within the medical profession and this needs to be seriously addressed.


'Ingrained culture' of harassment and bullying of medical students, inquiry told

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As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, more evidence of bullying and harassment of medical students is coming to light.

An inquiry ran by the Australian Medical Students Association has brought to light instances of gender discrimination, "teaching by humiliation" and many additional accounts of bullying. This evidence has been referred to by senators as depressing.

The general attitude has been that the harshness medical students experience is character building and up to half of medical students surveyed agree that such mistreatment is necessary and beneficial for learning.

An example of the evidence that was presented to the senate included an account of a surgeon who interrupted a junior female's research presentation in front of a large audience to say, "My, my, my haven't they let you out of the kitchen a lot this month."

Sexism and gender discrimination is a major issue, with one female student reporting that a senior male colleague referred to her suturing as "sexy" and stroked her back as they were leaving the surgery.

Hopefully, the senate hearing will result in improvements across the board and a positive transformation of the medical student and workplace culture.


NSW Nurses and Midwives Association calls on state government to improve nurse to patient ratios


As reported by Northern Daily Leader, nursing staff in Tamworth, NSW are rallying together in an effort to see an improvement in the nurse to patient ratios both locally and across the state.

Nurses and midwives Australia general secretary Brett Holmes says that NSW is lagging behind other states with the current ratios, in his words:

"Victoria and Queensland, on the other hand, have committed to minimum nurse to patient ratios in their public health system Awards and preserved these in legislation, ensuring public patients receive the best care possible... Despite protests in 2011 to secure ratios a number of public hospitals throughout NSW don't have them."

This call for change is perhaps most critical for speciality areas such as emergency, intensive care, paediatric and neonatal intensive care, community and mental health sectors.

While agreed upon ratios across the board will affect positive change in all areas of nursing.

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