Health Bulletin 24 November 2020

In this edition: Safer Care Victoria releases it’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, Suspension of a nurse on grounds of public interest, Australian Cyber Week: Six Practical Steps for Digital Self-Defence, Service NSW staff to receive mental health training.

The latest insights from our Health Law team:

Safer Care Victoria releases it’s 2019-2020 Annual Report

Suspension of a nurse on grounds of public interest

Australian Cyber Week: Six Practical Steps for Digital Self-Defence

Service NSW staff to receive mental health training

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Safer Care Victoria releases it’s 2019-2020 Annual Report

Safer Care Victoria (SCV) has recently released its Annual Report for 2019-2020.  Highlighted outcomes from SCV’s 2019-2020 activities include:

  • 27% decrease in stillbirths in the final trimester of pregnancy via the Safer Baby Collaborative;
  • reducing falls from 4.89 to 4.25 falls/month in patients aged >65 years in participating sites via the Delirium Collaborative;
  • reducing unnecessary or harmful treatment for children through delivering guidance for parents and clinicians about paediatric adenotonsillectomy, and providing resources for parents and clinicians about unnecessary prescribing for infant reflux;
  • successfully implementing 100% of projects designed to foster sustainable innovation through the BCV Innovation Fund; and
  • releasing guidance on acute behavioural disturbance in emergency departments, palliative sedation and anticipatory medicines, and developing draft guidance on atrial fibrillation in emergency departments.

Safer Care Victoria’s functions include:

  • identifying and running targeted improvement projects;
  • developing clinical guidance;
  • monitoring sentinel event;
  • analysing health service data;
  • supporting and training sector leaders; and
  • leading major improvement programs.

SCV’s annual report can be accessed here.



Suspension of a nurse on grounds of public interest

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) has confirmed the decision of the Medical Board of Australia (Board) to immediately suspend the registration of a nurse and former foster parent on the grounds of public interest.

The Applicant enrolled as a nurse in 2009. For 12 years prior to that, she was a foster parent to young children. On 19 September 2019, police brought charges against the Applicant for assault and false imprisonment of her foster children.

On 13 March 2020, the Board suspended the Applicant’s registration as a nurse under section 156(1)(e) of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) with immediate effect, due to the fact that ‘public knowledge of the charges would highly likely adversely affect public opinion of the nursing profession and its regulation’. This section permits the Board to take immediate action where the Board reasonably believes the action is otherwise in the public interest.

The Applicant argued before the Tribunal that this decision was disproportionate, in particular due to the potential hurdles which the criminal prosecution must overcome before a conviction could be considered, as well as the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

The Tribunal considered the example given in section 156(1)(e) of conduct that warrants suspension on the grounds of public interest, being: [When a] registered health practitioner is charged with a serious criminal offence, unrelated to the practitioner’s practice, for which immediate action is required to be taken to maintain public confidence in the provision of services by health practitioners. The Tribunal stated that ‘Public confidence is won – or lost – gradually, as the cumulative effect of the experiences of thousands of individuals in their dealings with medical practitioners over many years’. [59] 

The Tribunal concluded that immediate action was required to suspend the Applicant, primarily on the basis of the character and seriousness of the allegations against the Applicant, relating to ‘abusive, degrading and violent behaviour towards vulnerable young children in her care’.

You can read the Tribunal’s decision here.



Australian Cyber Week: Six Practical Steps for Digital Self-Defence

In light of Australian Cyber Week, which took place from 26 to 30 October 2020, the Australian Digital Health Agency have published a set of six practical steps for digital self-defence and protecting work and personal information against cyber attacks, for example phishing and ransomware, which costs the Australian economy billions every year.

The Australian Digital Health Agency encourages people to consider their presence online and determine whether they are at risk of a targeted cyber attack, particularly in 2020 and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, where individuals and businesses are increasingly relying on the internet and virtual interactions to conduct business and maintain communications.

The healthcare sector is recognised as a likely target for cyber attacks, due to the essential nature of health-related services and value of health-related data for cyber criminals.

The Australian Digital Health Agency’s six steps are as follows:

  1. Build security awareness with the Digital Health Security Awareness eLearning course
  2. Keep your software up to date
  3. Use strong passwords and implement multi-factor authentication
  4. Back up your data regularly
  5. Do not respond to unsolicited phishing emails, texts and calls
  6. If you fall victim to ransomware, avoid paying the ransom.

To read the Australian Digital Health Agency’s media release, click here.



Service NSW staff to receive mental health training

A 3,000-strong host of Service NSW staff will be trained to respond to customers in distress as the impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 continue to take a heavy toll on communities.

The training program has been fast-tracked as part of a two-year state government investment of more than $1 million in suicide prevention training for staff working in industries not directly related to mental health.

“This is about building another layer of support outside of the health system by empowering frontline staff with the confidence and skills to reach out to people who are showing signs of distress as they go about their day-to-day lives,” said Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor.

The training aims to equip Service NSW team members with useful techniques in de-escalating an immediate situation and knowledge of referral options for customers who may require more specialised support services.

“I feel more confident in managing customers who are angry, distressed or anxious because I know how to help them in that moment and to reassure them that they are not alone,” said Service NSW employee Courtney Wilks.

Read the full NSW Government publication here.


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