Primary Health Networks will give consumers greater say, says Consumers Health Forum

Leanne Wells, CEO of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia, says that the replacement of Medicare Locals with 31 new Primary Health Networks (“PHNs”) effective from 1 July 2015 will give consumers greater say in their health care.

Ms Wells stated that, with the rising number of Australians living with chronic conditions, patient needs are changing fundamentally, moving away from focussed attention from a single doctor and towards the provision of co-ordinated care by teams of nurses, allied health professionals and community service providers. According to Ms Wells, the establishment of the PHNs is an ideal opportunity for the Federal Government to adopt a consumer-driven approach to primary care.

To view the media release, click here.  

News

Increased support for Living Organ Donors Program

Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash, announced that the Federal Government will be extending the Supporting Leave for Living Organ Donors Scheme for two years, until 30 June 2017, with some changes.

From 1 July 2015, the period of time for which the Government will compensate employers who offer paid leave to an employee donating an organ will be increased from six weeks to nine. The aim is to reduce the financial stress associated with donating organs.

According to the Assistant Minister, organ donors are required to undergo extensive physical and mental health testing to determine whether they are able to donate and often need to take significant time off work if surgery proceeds. The program intends to help those donors who may be required to take this period as leave without pay or may exhaust their paid leave entitlements by encouraging employers to support employees who donate an organ.

To view the media release, click here.

AHPRA acts on more unregistered individuals

AHPRA is calling for the medical industry’s cooperation after recently investigating reports of unregistered individuals providing dental treatment to the public in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

AHPRA executed search warrants at three addresses in Melbourne’s north and brought charges against one individual for offences associated with running an unregistered dental practice.

Together with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, AHPRA has called on any medical professionals who may have provided follow-up care to ex-patients who received treatment from unregistered individuals to contact them.  AHPRA is taking this regulatory action on behalf of the Dental Board of Australia under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

To view the media release, click here.

Victorian Government releases discussion paper proposing changes to donor conception laws

The Department of Health and Human Services has released a discussion paper outlining the Victorian Government’s commitment to giving all donor-conceived people the right to access the identity of their donor. Proposed changes to the current law would mean that identifying information about donors could be obtained by donor-conceived people regardless of when they were conceived and whether or not the donor consents. The change would mean that donors who donated prior to 1988, with the expectation they would remain anonymous, could now be identified by their offspring. The paper emphasises the Government’s view that the interests and welfare of people born as a result of assisted reproductive treatment (“ART”) procedures should be prioritised, based on the principle that everyone should have the right to know their genetic heritage.

Background

Prior to 1988, donor anonymity was considered paramount, and donor-conceived people could not access identifying information about their donor. However a shift in community attitudes has meant that the right of donor-conceived people to know their donor’s identity has gradually been prioritised. A new law in effect from 29 June 2015 marks a significant shift, allowing those conceived before 1988 to access the identity of their donor. However, the donor consent must consent to release of identifying information – a requirement the Government views as problematic.

Proposed changes to the law

The discussion paper proposes new legislation that would give all donor-conceived people, including those born prior to 1988, an unlimited right to access identifying information about their donor. Donors would be able to choose ‘contact preferences’ allowing them to control and manage the contact they have with their offspring, including an option to have ‘no contact’.

The Government proposes to establish the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority to oversee the disclosure of all information about donor conception. All donor-conceived people seeking to identify their donor would be dealt with by the Authority, who would then offer counselling to both donors and their offspring and assist them with establishing any contact preferences. The Authority would have control of the Central Register, and upon request by the Authority anyone holding records of donor conception would be required to provide those records.

Submissions

The Department is currently seeking consultation on the discussion paper, and is interested to receive feedback on the proposals outlined in the paper. Submissions close on Friday 4 September 2015.

To view the discussion paper click here.

Articles

Michael Gorton features in New Matilda about Primary Health Networks 

"The aim of Primary Health Networks is essentially the same one as their predecessors: “improving patient outcomes in their geographical area by ensuring that services across the primary, community and specialist sectors align and work together in patients’ interests”.

Michael Gorton warns Medicare Local boards of their legal risk of trading while insolvent. Gorton further discusses the need to improve patient outcomes in their geographical area. Specifically by ensuring that services across the primary, community and specialist sectors align and work together in patients’ interests.

To read the full article, click here.