Category Archives: Health

JOHN WATKINS. An ode to nurses: hospital stay highlights immense compassion and skill

In hospital this week after surgery, I learnt some things I already half knew. That I don’t cope well with pain, that time slows down in the middle of the night, (I swear I saw the hands of the clock … Continue reading

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KEN HILLMAN. Patient safety, a new perspective.

Patient safety in acute hospitals is often described in limited terms such as infection rates and pressure areas without considering that many people gain little or no benefit from being admitted there in the first place. We also ignore the … Continue reading

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MICHAEL GRACEY. Closing the health gap – ten years on.

Warning signs were emerging many decades before, but by the early part of this century it was obvious that the health of indigenous Australians was much worse than that of other citizens. Indicators such as high infant mortality, widespread malnutrition … Continue reading

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ROSS GITTINS. Private health insurance is a con job

You won’t believe it, but my birthday was on Tuesday and I got a present from the federal government. I also got a card from my state member, sending his “very best wishes” for reaching such an “important milestone” in … Continue reading

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JOHN DWYER. The curse of political mediocrity; the informed, bold, courageous policies that Australia needs in health are nowhere to be seen (Part 1 of 3).

This “fair go mate” country of ours is wealthy but in reality ever less egalitarian. Increasing Inequity is palpable and most notable in the problems we have with housing, education and health. Health outcomes for Individuals are increasingly dependent on … Continue reading

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RAY MOYNIHAN. Beware the hype on genomics and precision medicine.

Last week’s landmark report on personalised medicine plays down potential for harm and oversells uncertain benefits.

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STEPHEN DUCKETT, CHRISTINE JORM AND GREG MORAN. Hospitals are risky places – but some are better than others

One in every nine patients who go into hospital in Australia suffers a complication: when something preventable goes wrong with their care. They might develop an infection from a hygiene breach, for instance, or be given the wrong dose or … Continue reading

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IAN McAULEY. Has Labor lost its nerve on private health insurance?

In his Press Club address last week Bill Shorten made some unflattering remarks about private health insurance. But every indication is that an incoming Labor government will maintain, or perhaps even strengthen, support for private health insurance. An opportunity to … Continue reading

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ROBERT WILLIAMSON. New medicine will transform Australia’s health system.

Medicine is changing.  In Australia a baby born today will live, on average, for 90 years or more.  The common infectious killer-diseases have been eliminated.  The treatment of cancer is becoming a success story, far different from the horror with … Continue reading

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JOHN THOMPSON. Private health insurers discriminate against country people

Private health insurers have asked the Commonwealth Government to prevent patients paying for public hospital services through their private health insurance (PHI).  This would be grossly unfair for those people in non-metropolitan Australia who are enticed into PHI through the … Continue reading

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PETER BROOKS. Tasmanian Labor takes on the gambling industry

The Tasmanian election on March 3rd will provide a watershed moment in public health not just in Tasmania but for Australia as well.

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EMMA ALBERICI. Sugar tax and the power of big business: How influence trumps evidence in politics

Australia markets itself as a liberal democracy committed to the principles of equality and fairness.  But in practice, those with clout or money or both can influence public policy in a way other members of the public cannot.

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Forget the Dog: make 2018 the Year of the Sceptic.

Much medical research is incomplete or wrong. The participation of drug companies in sponsored research and continuing education for doctors whereby the results of research are communicated to them demands healthy scepticism.  

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JOHN MENADUE. Cricket – grog and junk food!

Over the holidays I have very much enjoyed watching on television Australia winning the Ashes series, although they seem to be exhausted after the celebrations and are performing poorly in the ODI series. The visual TV coverage on Channel 9 … Continue reading

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LEANNE WELLS. More Government tax incentives for health insurance?

While in the real world consumers struggle to meet private health care costs, health funds are hoping for yet more government help.

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BERNARD KEANE. If milk prices went up like private health insurance …

The forthcoming round of private health insurance (PHI) premium increases — touted by the government as the lowest in a decade — will mean premiums have risen nearly 80% since 2008, far ahead of inflation and a good demonstration of … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. A Commonwealth Hospital Benefit to replace the $11b private health insurance subsidy.- A REPOST from October 18 2117

The wasteful and unfair $ 11b  per annum cost to taxpayers of the subsidy to Private Health Insurance should be abolished and the savings used in two possible ways – part funding a Medicare dental scheme and/or part  funding private … Continue reading

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John Menadue. The Coalition, Barnaby Joyce rural poverty and rural health. (Repost from 16 January 2016)

It is not surprising that independents are making headway in country electorates. But what is the ALP doing?  

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PETER BROOKS. Movement on out of pocket expenses.

Over the last few years much as been written on the issue of out of pocket (OOPs) medical expenses in Australia including a number of contributions in this newsletter. There has been a Senate enquiry and much coverage in the … Continue reading

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IAN WEBSTER. Policy failures in mental health

Mental health problems arising out of modern despair have to be tackled with insights gained from the day-to-day lives of society’s outcasts and the social sciences.  Matthew Fisher, (Australia’s policy failure on mental health, Pearls and Irritations, 14 December 2017) … Continue reading

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A paraplegic woman and her elderly carer.

A well-known and respected doctor has written to me about caring for his loved wife.  He outlines a compelling and human story.  With his permission I share with readers his account of the burdens and cost of caring. John Menadue.  

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IAN McAULEY. Private health insurers frighten the ALP-A REPOST from June 2 2017

There was a recent flurry of media excitement about a supposed “secret hospital funding plan”, which turned out to be no more than an option under consideration by a think-tank. But the real (and overlooked) issue in health funding is … Continue reading

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LESLEY RUSSELL. Who cares for the carers?

Governments have yet to create a coherent strategy to help the almost three million Australians providing informal care.

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JOHN DWYER. The devastating effects of Trumpism on science and medicine.

While the “Fire and the Fury” surrounding  the chaos at the White House dominates media reporting on the Trump presidency, the power of the office is being utilised to implement a myriad of bad decisions that will have very long-lasting … Continue reading

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MARK HARRIS. Sugar tax to tackle obesity: an update.

In 2016 I wrote about the call for a sugar tax, especially on sugar sweetened drinks, to address Australia’s obesity problem.  What has happened since then? 

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Alcohol and sport. A REPOST

Queensland’s victory over NSW in the 1 June  game lin 2016 was reported as the highest rating State of Origin match ever and ‘the top TV event of 2016.’  Both teams carried alcohol advertising on their clothing into the match. … Continue reading

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MICHAEL LAMBERT. Overweight and Obesity Part 2: The indigenous Australians Impact

Part 1 of this two-part post provided a global and broad Australian perspective on the pandemic of overweight and obesity. This part sets out the position for indigenous Australians and argues that this pandemic is a significant part of the … Continue reading

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STEPHEN LEEDER: A little bit of sugar may (or may not) make the weight go down.

The statistics do not support the view that there are big differences in sugar consumption between the fat and the thin.  We need to define our enemy clearly in the battle against obesity.

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MICHAEL LAMBERT. Overweight and Obesity Part 1: A Global and Australian Perspective

In part 1 of this two-part post Michael Lambert sets out the broad position on overweight and obesity as both a global development and the Australian situation, the costs involved and the case for national action . The second part … Continue reading

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Social causes of illness are not immutable: they are amenable to change.

Modifying our own behaviour in health-promoting directions is sensible but for sustainable, nation-wide change we need to take action of a different kind.

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