Grants to support medical research

The Commonwealth Government recently awarded $129.4 million in grants to Australia’s leading health and medical researchers. The grants are primarily for Indigenous health throughout Northern Territory, developing an AIDS vaccine and tackling the issue of over-diagnosis within the Australian health sector.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (“NHMRC”) Medical Research Endowment Account (“MREA”) will fund 96 grants across a range of research disciplines; from postgraduate scholarships, to collaborations with the European Union, to large multi-disciplinary grants.

To view the Department of Health statement, click here.


My Health Record electronic health records system to have over 1 million users

We previously reported on the introduction of My Health Record in our 6 October 2015 edition. The system is set to improve co-ordinated care outcomes, reduce duplication and provide vital information in an emergency.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley launched the program on 4 March 2016. An opt-out trial for the system (commencing shortly) will include more than 1 million residents in certain areas of New South Wales and Queensland. The previous opt-in system resulted in less than 1 in 10 Australians signing up to the earlier version. Under the trial, patients can share vital health information securely online with authorised healthcare providers. Minister Ley addressed privacy concerns by saying patients would have ultimate control over who accessed their information and stronger privacy controls have been introduced to protect information.

It is anticipated that, if all Australians are signed up to a functioning My Health Record, this may save 5,000 lives annually.

To view the media release, click here.

To view our previous Health Insights, click here.

New guide to the NSQHS Standards 

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (“ACSQHC”) has released a guide to the National Safety and Quality Health Services (“NSQHS”) Standards. The guide will support community health services implementing the new NSQHS Standards.

The NSQHS Standards cover areas where there have been incidents of harm to patients as a result of patient care and areas where an increased risk to patient safety has been identified.

To view the guide, click here.

Changes to regulations for notifiable conditions 

Pathology services and medical practitioners should be aware that from 4 April 2016 the rules for blood lead level tests will change from reporting blood level results of 10 micrograms per decilitre to 5 micrograms per decilitre.

These changes follow the recommendations in the May 2015 Statement and Information Paper from the NHMRC and will require that practitioners and pathology services notify the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) in writing within 5 days of diagnosis as per the requirements of a Group B notifiable condition.

Pathologists and medical practitioners will be required to contact the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Section of DHHS immediately via telephone upon initial diagnosis or suspicion, followed by written notification within 5 days.

To view the statement from the Department of Health, click here.