Minister for Mental Health announces $3.57 million “Doorway Program”

On 25 March 2015, the Victorian Government announced that it will contribute $3.57 million over four years to the expansion of the Doorway Program, which enables people living with mental illness to secure accommodation in rental properties.

The program, currently delivered by the Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria, the Victorian Government, clinical mental health services and the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, has secured housing for 59 adults with severe mental illness and assisted them to keep their homes.  This increased funding will enable the program to support an additional 50 people annually and to be extended from the Baw Baw, Latrobe, Boroondara and Yarra local government areas to Frankston, Mornington Peninsula, Stonnington, Port Phillip, Bayside, Kingston and Glen Eira.

To view the announcement, click here.

Cases

DePuy ASR Hip Replacement class action commences

In March 2015, the DePuy ASR Hip Replacement class action commenced.  More than 2000 people are participating in the proceedings.

The plaintiffs allege that the DePuy ASR hip implants were defective, not fit for purpose and/or not of merchantable quality in contravention of the (then applicable) Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth).  Further, the plaintiffs claim that DePuy, as the manufacturer, along with its Australian distributor, Johnson & Johnson Medical Pty Ltd, were negligent in their design, manufacture and supply of the implants.

Patients who used the allegedly faulty device have complained of a range of side effects including chronic pain, infections, blood poisoning, heart problems and fatigue.

The trial is expected to last 16 weeks in the Federal Court in Sydney.

Tribunal reprimands practitioner for unprofessional conduct

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“Tribunal”) has reprimanded a Queensland pharmacist for unprofessional conduct arising from a breach of the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (Qld) (“Regulation”).

The pharmacist was referred to the Tribunal by the Pharmacy Board of Australia after Queensland Health undertook a routine inspection of the pharmacy at which he was employed.  The Board submitted that the pharmacist had breached the Regulation by dispensing pseudoephedrine without a genuine therapeutic need and in breach of his pharmacy’s quality standards.

The pharmacist conceded that unprofessional conduct under the National Law had been proven.  The Tribunal accepted a joint submission made by the parties to impose a sanction and reprimand the practitioner.

The Tribunal noted that there are public policy reasons as to why it will not depart from an agreed sanction that is reasonable in the circumstances and emphasised that it sanctions practitioners to protect the public, uphold standards of practice and maintain public confidence, rather than to punish individuals.

To view the decision, click here.

Concannon v Portland District Health [2015] FWC 513

On 30 January 2015 the Fair Work Commission found against an HR manager at a health service in a constructive dismissal claim.  Vice President Watson found that the HR manager had chosen to resign and had not been “forced” to go.

The HR manager argued that the chief executive’s style of management involved a “hands on approach”, including making staffing decisions, which undermined the HR manager’s position and forced his resignation.

While VP Watson accepted that there were conflicts between the management styles of the two individuals, he considered that the chief executive’s style was not inherently unreasonable, and ultimately the decisions were the chief executive’s to make.

The Commission found that Mr Concannon was not dismissed from his employment and that “he made the choice” to terminate his contract.

To view the judgment, click here.

Our Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety team have reviewed the case.

To view the alert, click here.

News

“Fake” doctor to face charges in Magistrates’ Court

On 4 March 2015, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (“AHPRA”) and the Medical Board of Australia (“Board”) commenced legal proceedings against a man they allege to be operating as a “fake” doctor.

AHPRA and the Board are taking action in the Magistrates’ Court at Melbourne against the doctor and/or his company for purporting to be an obstetrician/gynaecologist specialising in IVF. The defendant has never been a registered health practitioner.

Under the National Law, it is an offence to use a protected title such as “medical practitioner” to make another person believe that you are registered under the National Law.  If found guilty, the practitioner could face fines of up to $30,000 per offence and his company could be fined up to $60,000 per offence.

To view the media release, click here.