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Health Bulletin (15 April 2019)

The latest insights from our Health Law team.

In this edition:

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Supporting our elite athletes' mental health

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has announced their new initiative to support the mental health of elite athletes.

The Mental Health Referral Network (MHRN) was announced last month as one of the key strategic priorities for the AIS. The MHRN will provide almost one thousand AIS athletes with access to psychologists and mental health practitioners across Australia. The programme will provide mental health assessments, counselling and other services. 

The AIS Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Director, Matti Clements, has stated that the AIS intends to build the MHRN to include a range of endorsed psychiatrists and neuropsychologists.

“Wellbeing and performance go hand in hand,” Ms Clements says. “By increasing athlete wellbeing we will be assisting athletes and sports to achieve more sustained performance and success at the highest level.

Read more about the initiative on the AIS website, here.



Health Commissioner calling for submissions as part of inquiry into ART and IVF practices

The Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner is calling for public submissions as part of an inquiry into unsafe and unethical practices by In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) service providers.

In a media release, Commissioner Karen Cusack stated that the inquiry would include wide-ranging consultation and community engagement with members of the public who had utilised ART and/or IVF services, along with service providers.

As part of the inquiry, if the HCC believes that individual cases should be investigated, a separate investigation may be conducted and, where appropriate, action could be taken against individual providers.

The HCC will work with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) on any consumer law matters arising out of the inquiry, such as matters of false, misleading and deceptive conduct, which fall under CAV’s jurisdiction.

Read about the inquiry into ART and IVF here, and the HCC media release here.


New private health insurance website launched by Commonwealth

Following changes to private health insurance regulation in Australia on 1 April 2019, the Commonwealth Ombudsman has launched a new version of its private health insurance website,

The website provides consumers with information about private health insurance and allows users to search the features and premium costs of every policy available in Australia. The website includes the new tiers of insurance policies (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic) where available. For policies that have not been categorised following the changes, health insurers have until 1 April 2020 to transfer their existing policies across to the new tiers.

The website also contains:

  1. Private Health Insurance Statements produced by insurers which summarise the most important features of every policy;
  2. a premium estimator; and
  3. general information about how private health insurance works in Australia.

Read the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s media release here and find out more about the changes to private health insurance here.


The AMA calls for age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14 years of age

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has made a call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14 years of age. Currently, children aged 10 years old can be charged, prosecuted and imprisoned for offences.

The President of the AMA, Dr. Tony Bartone, has said that if the age was lifted from 10 to 14 years old, this will prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of vulnerable children. Dr. Bartone has claimed that this is a nationwide problem, which disproportionately impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. For instance, 600 children below the age of 14 are jailed each year, with Aboriginal and Islander children comprising 70 percent of this group. Dr. Bartone added that most children also come from disadvantaged backgrounds, where they often experience violence, abuse, disability, homelessness, and drug or alcohol abuse.

Dr. Bartone is of the view that if the age of criminal responsibility is increased, a vicious cycle of disadvantage and entrenchment into the criminal justice system may be avoided.

Read the AMA's media release here.


Victorian Pharmacy Authority reports pharmaceutical mismanagement of Schedule 8 poisons

The Victorian Pharmacy Authority (VPA) has voiced concerns about ongoing “serious deficiencies in the recording and storage of Schedule 8 (S8) poisons”. S8 poisons are medicines with strict legislative controls, including opioid analgesics such as morphine, oxycodone and methadone.

Following repeated inspection findings of discrepancies in S8 item records, the VPA has strongly recommended the implementation of written policies and procedures, including the prompt recording of transactions in S8 poisons. The VPA has further recommended regular and ongoing independent audits of transactions to ensure accuracy of the register. 

The VPA has also disclosed the findings of three recent panel hearings, at which cautions and reprimands were issued to licensees for failures to meet the obligations of good pharmacy practice, including such issues as an overheating pharmacy, a lack of current editions of mandatory references, and inaccurate maintenance of filling records for dose administration aids.

Click here to read the full VPA article. 

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