National has released the workforce portion of their health policy, which contains the proposal for wiping off doctor’s and nurses student loans in return for bonded service (Yes, I know there’s a difference between bonded service and bondage, but I couldn’t resist the title!). David Farrar over at Kiwiblog has produced a nice summary of the policy:
- Voluntary bonding with student loan debt writeoffs
- Will apply to those willing to work for three to five years in hard to staff communities or specialities
- A maximum annual write off of $10,000 per annum
- $30,000 written off (if at maximum rates) after year three and then $10,000 a year for the next two years if they stay on.
- Will apply to anyone who graduated from 2005 onwards
- Will be extended to other health professionals over time
- Cost is initially $3 million in year one expanding to $9 million in year three which covers 100 doctors and 250 nurses and midwives.
Another baby has died from contaminated milk in China and I find myself in the very rare position of agreeing with John Minto, that Fonterra’s performance so far seems like gutless handwringing.
Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier says the company thought it better to work with local Chinese authorities for an effective recall rather than risk less effective action by the company attempting its own recall of products.
This was inexcusable. A public announcement by the company here and in China would have electrified the local population and brought the issue to a head rapidly. It would have saved lives and the suffering of many infants and their families. And no, it wouldn’t have been popular with the Chinese leadership and as a result Fonterra may have found its economic development programme in the country stalled. But it would have been the right thing to do.
It is a poorly kept secret that most doctors are closet gadget freaks (some of us are not so “closet”!) We like to use the latest investigations, the latest medicines and the latest technology; not always for the reasons of better patient treatment or diagnosis. This is particularly obvious in hospital medicine, where we get to spend public money, instead of our own.
Unfortunately, it seems that gadget addiction is catching. Now Auckland hospital management has caught it.
Poor Fonterra. Now the problem of the contaminated milk has spread to their own brand. This is very serious. Fonterra can’t even claim that their hands were tied by local authorities nor can they blame the company quality assurance – because it is their quality assurance. They are directly responsible for New Tai Milk Products.
The Cabinet-level Consumer Protection Commission said that according to Taiwan’s consumer protection laws, Fonterra is legally responsible for the tainted milkpowder that it imported.
People whose health has been affected by the products can seek compensation.
I can’t help feeling that, should the Nats win the election, Tony Ryall will not make a good Health Minister. His latest gaff is to send a letter of warning to the Auckland DHB, saying he had received reports the board intended to promote Government achievements before the election. What he thought this would look like to the media no-one knows, but it throws grave doubt on his ability to handle that great destroyer of political careers, the health portfolio.
An Item on 3 News about Psychwatch, a Name and Shame website complaining about lapses in the mental health system. The Mental Health services are understandably, and quite justifiably, annoyed.
“Mental Health Commission chairman Peter McGeorge said today that focusing attention on individuals who work within mental health teams was unfair and was unlikely to bring about improvements in services.”
This is far too mild a way of putting it. As far as I am concerned, these people are complete troglodytes and their blog should be treated with the contempt it richly deserves. Let me explain the reasons for my ire.
Campbell live had a story tonight about Rose, a 2-year-old, deaf girl who had a cochlear implant done in America but subsequently moved to New Zealand. Initially, the Ministry of Health refused to fund her speech and language therapy, thereby rendering the entire cochlea implant an expensive waste of time. After much lobbying, the Ministry has relented but still refuses to pay for the implant to be repaired. And this is not the only patient in this predicament:
The Hearing House has been campaigning against the exclusion for years and today the Health Ministry changed its tune – but just for Rose.
There are another dozen profoundly deaf children who are not as lucky. And the Hearing House who advocates for the young New Zealanders says it is disappointing.
There’s a very ugly story today about contaminated milk in China. At least one baby has died and 432 others have kidneys stones from infant formula that has been contaminated with melamine. The HOS reports on this more fully. This is a classic case where greed over-rides any moral sense and, indeed, any common sense. Sanlu, the makers of the formula, now have to recall tonnes of milk powder; they will experience massive consumer backlash and some of their profiteers may well be encountering prison bars in their future. Contaminating your own product in order to make more profit has to be the dumbest move in the history of short-sighted stupidity. And Fonterra is right in the middle of it.
Tucked away in the news yesterday was this story of a coroner’s report on the death of an inmate of Christchurch prison. David Cox died in Christchurch Hospital in 2006 after contracting pneumococcal pneumonia in Christchurch Prison. His sister recounts how he was denied the extra blankets and clothing she tried to provide as “prisoners were required to wear prison clothing”. The articles goes on to report that the coroner made recommendations about warm clothing, blankets and the lack of liaison officers. It may be that recommendations about the medical aspects of this case were omitted by the journalist. I hope so, because the medical failings here are the true crux of the matter.
I have to admit, I get a little testy with people who justify their NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) attitude with pseudoscientific nonsense. Every time a cell phone tower goes up, people run around screaming that their children are going to die of cancer. This is despite the evidence that the RF radiation from a cell phone tower is very small compared to the stuff that bombards us every day from our electronic devices, including cell phones themselves. The whole thing is inflamed by absurd fears from the completely uninformed.
“The hearing was interrupted from the public gallery by Vicky Webb, who emotionally told how her family chose not to use a microwave and made limited use of cellphones but returned from holiday to find a tower being put up 45m from her children’s window.”