As October draws to a close we celebrate National Safe Work Month, an initiative led by Safe Work Australia to improve health and safety in the workplace. The theme for this year’s campaign is “A moment is all it takes” reminding all Australians that all it takes is a single moment for a workplace incident to occur and, equally, that a single moment is all it takes to prevent harm. As part of National Safe Work Month, RANZCO is encouraging everybody to get involved in workplace safety, particularly eye safety, to prevent eye injuries in the workplace.
Injuries can be devastating
Workplace accidents can result in devastating eye injuries which can place a huge, potentially preventable, burden on patients, their families and society more broadly. According to a 2014- 2015 report from Safe Work Australia, eye injuries in the workplace are very common, with over 840 people making a serious eye injury claim during the reporting period. Data from workers’ compensation claims has also found the most common diagnosis for eye-related injury and disease stemmed from a foreign body in the eye. Alarmingly, almost one-quarter of eye injuries that resulted in an ED presentation occurred while working for income.
At its September meeting the Optometry Board of Australia Board three members who have served for the maximum three terms or nine years each. The three members were:
- Ms Jane Duffy (Victoria) – practitioner member and chair of the board’s scheduled medicines advisory committee;
- Mr Garry Fitzpatrick (Western Australia) – practitioner member, chair of the finance and risk committee and member of the policy and education committee; and
- Mr Derek Fails (New South Wales) − practitioner member, member of the finance and risk committee and member of the policy and education committee.
Three newly practitioner members have been appointed – , Ms Judith Hannan (New South Wales), Ms Carla Abbott (Victoria) and Mr Stuart Aamodt (Western Australia).
Of the 5,595 registered optometrists in Australia as at 30 September, 57.2 per cent (3,151) are eligible for scheduled medicines endorsement, according to the Optometry Board of Australia.
Private hospital coverage has fallen to its lowest level since 2009 and those who remain insured are more likely to have exclusions on their policies, a shift expected to add pressure on public hospitals.
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority data shows the proportion of the population with hospital cover fell from 45.1 per cent to 44.9 per cent in the September quarter. Coverage has not been that low since mid-2009.
The unprecedented surge in members taking out exclusions to save on premiums has raised the possibility that they, too, may be forced to go public for treatment.
Coverage has fallen every quarter since mid-2015. Meanwhile, there have been more admissions to public hospitals than private ones.
There is no evidence of an attributable blowout in public hospital waiting lists but governments are alert to the consequences of the system becoming more reliant on taxpayer funding.
The latest blurb from the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association claims: “Presented by ODMA and Optometry Victoria, O=MEGAl9 will combine the largest annual optometry conference in the Southern Hemisphere(my emphasis) with the largest eye care and eyewear show in Australia.
How can that be? After all, South America’s Brazil has a population of 204 million, Columbia 48m, Argentina 43m and Peru 31m, with another four countries’ population totalling 74 million. All up, the total population of those countries alone is 400 million plus others such as for example, in the Caribbean.
Yet little old Melbourne (Victoria’s population is 6 million) is claimed by ODMA and Optometry Victoria to be the venue of “the largest annual optometry conference in the Southern Hemisphere”.
How does that line up against conferences in populous countries in the Southern Hemisphere? It probably doesn’t.
Time for a change in the brains-trusts responsible for such nonsense?
Australia spent nearly $181 billion on health in 2016-17, according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report.
The report, Health expenditure Australia 2016-17, shows that health spending grew more in 2016-17 than at any time in the past 5 years.
4.7% increase in spending
‘In 2016-17, health spending grew by 4.7%, compared to an average of 3.1% each year over the past 5 years. This was also the first time spending grew more than the decade average (4.6%) since 2011-12,’ AIHW spokesperson, Dr Adrian Webster, said.
That equated to more than $7,400 spent per person – over $200 more per person than in the previous year.
Governments were the drivers of this growth.
70% of spending funded by governments
“In 2016-17, almost 70% of total health spending was funded by governments, with the federal government contributing about 41%, and state and territory governments 27%,” Dr Webster said.
Total government spending on health grew by 6.8% in real terms in 2016-17, above the decade average of 4.5%.
Tax-revenue spend on health was 27.1%
Due to the relatively rapid growth in government spending, the proportion of tax revenue spent on health increased in 2016-17 following a period of relative stability (rising by 0.8 percentage points to 27.1%).
The rise in total government spending was related to an increase in spending for public hospital services ($1.3 billion in
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