Minister calls for end to Indigenous blindness

The federal health minister, Mr Greg Hunt, has called for a plan to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities.

Addressing a parliamentary event on 13 September organised by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, Glaucoma Australia and Specsavers to raise awareness about glaucoma, Mr Hunt praised the collaborative efforts of the ophthalmology and optometry sectors to deliver the most effective and efficient eye care possible.

Mr Hunt stressed the importance of addressing eye-health inequalities in Indigenous communities and asked RANZCO to develop a national plan to eradicate avoidable blindness, including treatable eye diseases such as glaucoma, in those communities.

He said glaucoma affects 300,000 Australians, with that number expected to rise to 400,000 by 2025. However, around half of cases of glaucoma remain undiagnosed. Without diagnosis and management, people can suffer irreversible vision loss, he pointed out.

RANZCO, Glaucoma Australia and Specsavers came together in Canberra to raise awareness about glaucoma and remind people about the importance of having regular eye examinations.

MPs and government ministers were told that if a person is identified at their eye examination as being at higher risk of developing glaucoma, an optometrist can examine the eye to see any possible signs for glaucoma, meaning glaucoma development can be identified early and a patient can be referred

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By | September 19th, 2017|Health|

Federal health minister and former RANZCO president support ‘Yes’ vote

The federal health minister, Mr Greg Hunt, and a former president of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, Dr Bill Glasson, have both supported a ‘Yes’ vote in the forthcoming same-sex marriage postal poll.

The poll is funded by the federal government to the tune of $123 million.

The names of Mr Hunt and Dr Glasson were included in full-page press advertisements listing 60 Liberal and Country party members supporting the ‘Yes’vote.

By | September 19th, 2017|People|

SA health minister resigns

The South Australian health minister, Mr Jack Snelling, has resigned, stepping down immediately from cabinet and not contesting the March 2018 poll, saying it’s time for him to “step away” from politics.

The SA premier, Mr Jay Weatherill, said Mr Snelling would always be remembered as the man who delivered the new $2.4 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital and presided over major changes to the health system in SA.

Mr Weatherill did not indicate whether he will fill the vacant portfolio or make other changes.

Mr Snelling was first elected as the Member for Playford in 1997 and was made health minister in 2013. He previously served as treasurer and parliamentary Speaker.


By | September 19th, 2017|People|

Medicare numbers possibly taken for ‘dark web’

An estimated 165 people may have had their Medicare numbers obtained by people selling the information on the ‘dark web’ –­ an area of the internet hidden to many in which cyber criminals trade in malware, stolen credit cards, personal information, and other data.

The federal human services department told a Senate inquiry it had contacted 165 people after a journalist revealed in July he had been able to buy his own Medicare number for $20.

The records of the 165 people had been checked and their was no evidence of any inappropriate Medicare claiming activity.

“It appears to have been an external person or persons making an illegitimate use of a legitimate channel by which providers access Medicare numbers when they need them,” Australian Digital Health Agency chief executive, Mr Tim Kelsey, said.

By | September 19th, 2017|Business|

Ulysses comments

Perverting the course of justice

The barrister who successfully defended former High Court judge Lionel Murphy on a charge of perverting the course of justice, Ian Barker QC, has hit back at those who have long criticised the judge for declining to give sworn evidence (as was his right) at his criminal trial.

It is the same Ian Barker QC who defended the late optometrist Ray Proust when facing one of the most outrageous charges ever laid against an optometrist by the then New South Wales Board of Optometrical Registration.

In short, the charge was that there had been a breach of the requirements of the then NSW Optometrists Act in regard to professional misbehavior.

Seem serious? According to the board, it certainly was; in fact so much so that nothing less than dragging him before a board inquiry would do.

So what was the nature of the alleged offence by (World War II commando) Ray Proust to be deserving of such treatment, particularly given his unblemished record as an optometrist?

He had two signs saying ‘Optometrist’ on his practice premises – one for one side of the building and one for the other, when the regulations limited such a sign to one!

Ian Barker, rightly, had some, shall we say, interesting words to say about it

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By | September 19th, 2017|Comment|

COAG toughens National Law

Penalties for offences committed by people are to be increased for those who hold themselves out to be a registered health practitioner, including a medical practitioner or an optometrist or any of the other 12 health professions covered by National Law.

The decision to do so includes those who use reserved professional titles or carry out restricted practices when not registered, the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council (the Ministerial Council) of the Coalition of Australian Governments agreed.

Custodial sentences 

Ministers also agreed to proceed with an amendment to introduce a custodial sentence with a maximum term of up to three years for those offences.

The reforms will be fast tracked to strengthen public protection under the National Law. Preparation will now begin on a draft amendment bill, with a view to being introduced to the Queensland Parliament in 2018, along with mirror legislation in other jurisdictions.

Ministers also discussed mandatory reporting provisions for treating health practitioners, agreeing that protecting the public from harm is “of paramount importance” as is supporting practitioners to seek help and treatment for their health concerns, including for their mental health and well-being.

The ministers agreed practitioners should be able to confidentially seek treatment for health issues while preserving the requirement for patient safety.

Mandatory reporting

It was agreed that the Australian Health Ministers’

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By | September 17th, 2017|Legal|

Lifetime Achievement Award from IACLE

Australian educator and researcher Professor Deborah Sweeney received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Association of Contact Lens Educators Congress held in Hyderabad, India on 9-10 September.

The president of IACLE, Dr Shehzad Naroo, presented the award to Professor Sweeney following a tribute from Professor Desmond Fonn, who received the inaugural IACLE Lifetime Achievement Award.

Professor Sweeney is pro vice chancellor research and innovation at the University of Western Sydney.

Her substantial contribution to global contact lens education included serving as IACLE president from 2000 to 2011 and secretary and treasurer for 10 years.

She held executive roles at the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, the Cooperative Research Centre for Eye Research and Technology, and Vision Cooperative Research Centre.

In a media release, Dr Naroo credited Professor Sweeney for being able to take IACLE through turbulent times.

“Through her renewed vision IACLE rose into the global model for eye-care education. Debbie is a deserved recipient of this award, which is the highest accolade offered by IACLE,” he said.

“Debbie took over from the late Brien Holden, who was IACLE president from 1991 to 2000. Des Fonn was vice-president for 15 years and served during both former presidencies. It was this remarkable trinity

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By | September 17th, 2017|Education|

Artificial hand ‘sees’ via camera

AN artificial hand is being used to ‘see’ by means of a built-in camera to take pictures of objects its wearer want to see and then automatically selecting one of four positions to lift, say a cup.

According to New Scientist, the idea is to make the hand easier to use by converting electrical signals to a person’s arm or leg into movements, as existing controllable prostheses work.

But it can take a long time to learn to control such prostheses and the movements can be clumsy. By giving the hand the ability to see what it is doing, the idea is that it can position itself without the wearer having to worry about making last-minute adjustments.

The hand learns the best way to grasp objects.

The device was developed at Newcastle University in northern England.

By | September 17th, 2017|Health|

Registration fees set for 2017-18

The Optometry Board of Australia’s registration fee for 2017-18 has been frozen at $300, while the registration fee set by the Medical Board of Australia has been increased by an indexed 2.5% to $742.

Registration fees for the other 12 health-care professions under National Law have also been set, according to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, to allow it and the respective national boards, “to carry out our regulatory responsibilities in the most efficient and effective ways possible”.

Reflects costs of regulating each profession

The fees set by each national board vary to reflect the cost of regulating each profession under the National Law.

The fees range from the lowest $110 for occupational therapists and for physiotherapists, to the highest $742 for medical practitioners.

No increase for 8 professions

There has been no increase in fees for the Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, Medical Radiation Practice, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Osteopathy, Physiotherapy and Podiatry boards.

The Dental, Medical, Pharmacy and Psychology boards have fee increases limited to indexation of up to 3%.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia fee has increased by $5.00, having frozen the fee for the past three years – a 3.3% increase ($150 to $155).

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia has an increase of $30 in its registration fee.

By | September 17th, 2017|Business|

Ulysses comments …

Really the best?

Extracts from a website: [we have] ‘the best optometrists’ and ‘the best independent practices’.

Wonder what the Optometry Board of Australia will make of that, given the requirements of the National Law.

By | September 17th, 2017|Comment|