Drinking patterns in Australia, 2001-2007 (AIHW)

Drinking patterns in Australia, 2001-2007 uses data from the three most recent National Drug Household Surveys to look at trends in alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, alcohol beverage of choice, and under-age drinking. Using the 2007 data, the report also explores factors that are associated with short-term risky or high-risk drinking behaviour.

Premature mortality from chronic disease (AIHW)

Premature mortality from chronic disease uses potential years of life lost to describe mortality patterns for deaths due to chronic disease. It shows that in 2007, 835 premature deaths were due to chronic disease. The leading cause of premature mortality among females was breast cancer and among males it was coronary heart disease. Further, the bulletin highlights that more than 3 in 5 of premature chronic disease deaths were also potentially avoidable.

Media release

Cancer in Australia 2010: an overview and Cancer in Australia 2010: in brief (AIHW)

Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2010 provides a comprehensive overview of national statistics on cancer in Australia. The report presents the latest available statistics on cancer overall, as well as on many individual types of cancers, and it includes information on incidence, mortality, survival, prevalence, burden of cancer, hospitalisations, and national cancer screening programs.

Between 1982 and 2007, cancer incidence increased 27%, largely due to an aging population. However, cancer deaths during this time declined 16%. Mortality rates for Australian Indigenous peoples were considerably higher for all cancers.

Media release

Cancer in Australia 2010: in brief

Improving the culture of hospitals : improving outcomes for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander patients

The CRCAH-funded Improving the Culture of Hospitals project examined successful Aboriginal programs undertaken by Australian hospitals, within a quality improvement framework, to see how this work could be replicated and sustained across a range of hospital environments. The overall aim of the project was to support a program of cultural reforms to improve cultural sensitivity in acute health care institutions, thereby leading to better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Final project report

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patient Quality Improvement Toolkit for Hospital Staff
The health status of Indigenous peoples is a global concern with mortality and hospitalisation data indicating that the health of indigenous groups falls below that of other ethnic groups within their countries. From an Australian perspective, Aboriginal people generally have higher rates of hypertension, heart disease, respiratory ailments, stroke, diabetes, cancer and renal failure.

This toolkit has been designed to give hospitals a systematic approach to improving Aboriginal health service delivery.

Free online training in infection control

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, has produced a portal of online training courses on infection control subjects. The portal is made up of a series of educational modules for the health care worker who is undertaking infection control activities to enhance their knowledge and provide them with resources to assist them in safe practice, quality healthcare delivery and risk management strategies.

Courses available include principles of infection control; basic microbiology; cleaning, disinfection & sterilisation ; basic epidemiology; renovation & redevelopment risk management and several others. Registration is free.

Windows into Safety and Quality in Health Care 2010

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, has released the Windows into Safety and Quality in Health Care 2010 report. This report provides perspectives on aspects of the safety and quality of health care in 2010. Topics covered include how patient experience can improve the safety and quality of health care, clinical deterioration, antibiotic resistance, clinical handover, medication safety and accreditation. Other chapters focus on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience of safe and high quality health care, falls prevention in older people and the use of reporting by hospitals to monitor and improve patient safety.

iCanQuit website gives smokers the edge in their attempt to quit

Smokers in NSW will gain the upper hand in their attempt to quit thanks to an innovative new website launched recently. The website is a one-stop-shop for smokers looking to quit.

iCanQuit motivates smokers to stop smoking by providing them with the information and tools they need so they can personalise their quit journey, and interact and connect with like-minded users. It allows smokers to share their stories about previous, current or planned quit attempts, provides helpful hints on how to quit as well as a goal-tracker and savings calculator so smokers can see the tangible results of quitting.

The website is free and the first of its kind in Australia. It is part of a two-pronged approach aimed at reducing the impact of tobacco related cancer in NSW with a state-wide advertising campaign to be launched on television and in cinemas later this year.

Media release

The Indigenous Chronic Disease Package Annual Progress Report 2009-10 and GP Resource Kit

Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, said a new report on the Australian Government*s multi-million dollar commitment to tackling chronic disease in Indigenous communities shows positive progress is being made. The Indigenous Chronic Disease Package Annual Progress Report 2009-10 is the first government report detailing the achievements and progress of the historic commitment to help close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Australian Government's Indigenous Chronic Disease Package committed $805.5 million over 4 years to target chronic disease such as diabetes and cancer, which are responsible for a large amount of the disease burden affecting Indigenous people. This package is part of the $1.6 billion National Partnership Agreement which was agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments in November 2008.

Also available from the same site is The GP Resource Kit, a tool for doctors, health professionals and staff working in Indigenous health services and general practices to understand how to access and make the most of the new initiatives in the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package.

Media release

Australian Health Survey 2010

Australia's financially hard up and those living outside capital cities have a more negative view of the Australian health care system than the broader population, according to a bi-annual survey by The Menzies Centre for Health Policy and The Nous Group. Key concerns about access and affordability featured in the survey responses.

Examining how Australians view their health care system, the report presents the results of a telephone survey of a representative sample of 1201 Australians. The Menzies-Nous Australian Health Survey 2010 provides valuable insight into the views held by Australians about their own health, the Australian health system and affordability of health and aged care services.

The survey was conducted in July 2010 and asked questions on the following subjects:

* satisfaction with the health system;

* support for health reform;

* access to health care services;

* confidence in services;

* affordability of health care.

Healthcare in focus : how NSW compares internationally ( NSW Bureau of Health Information)

Healthcare in Focus provides a comprehensive look at how the NSW health system compares to the rest of Australia and 10 other countries, using some 90 performance measures. The report provides comprehensive information including care experiences, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, value, safety and responsiveness.

This report is the latest in a number of reports on hospital performance and patient perceptions available from the NSW Bureau of Health Information.

MyHospitals website

The MyHospitals website, which is intended to give the community clear, comparable and user friendly information about the services and the performance of their local hospital, was launched on 10 December. The website has been developed and the data compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. It includes waiting times for elective surgery and emergency department care for the 2009/10 financial year as well as a comparison to the previous year.

Health expenditure Australia 2008-09 (AIHW)

Health expenditure in Australia in 2008-09 reached $112.8 billion, an increase of $9.2 billion since 2007-08. The area of health expenditure with the largest increase was public hospital services, which accounted for over one-quarter of the total increase in 2008-09.

Health expenditure Australia 2008-09 examines expenditure on different types of health goods and services in the decade to 2008-09. The report describes funding by the Australian Government and state governments, private health insurance and individuals, compares health expenditures in the different states and territories and compares Australia's spending with other countries.

Media release

The Shed Online brings Men's Sheds to your computer

The Shed Online is an internet-based social community for men, founded by beyondblue: the national depression initiative, The Movember Foundation and the Australian Men's Shed Association.

Like the original Men's Sheds, The Shed Online is a place for men to socialise, network, make friends and share skills. It aims to recreate the atmosphere of "real life Men's Sheds" : a safe space where men can feel confident to discuss and exchange information. The Shed Online aims to foster a sense of community and build men's social networks. In addition to being a place for men to interact with other men The Shed Online also provides men with information on health and well-being.

Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive and valuable to your community,connecting with friends and maintaining an active body and mind. Becoming a member of The Shed Online gives men a safe environment where they can find many of these things in the spirit of "old-fashioned mateship".

Growing food for healthy communities

The booklet "Growing food for healthy communities" is one of the latest resources added to the website of the Remote Indigenous Gardens (RIG) Network.

The RIG Network project is a cross-sectoral networking initiative that aims to help connect people who have an interest in the social and economic contributions that local food garden projects and small enterprises can make to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, food security and wellbeing.The website features many resources, research articles, and a regular email newsletter is available. Of interest to anyone seeking to improve the quality of food supply in their local community.

Inquiry into Registration Processes and Support for Overseas Trained Doctors. [Submissions by 4 February 2011]

Many rural health services for whom overseas-trained doctors form an integral part of the workforce, will probably have an interest in an Inquiry into Registration Processes and Support for Overseas Trained Doctors (OTDs) announced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing.

In particular, the Committee has been asked to explore the administrative processes currently in place and determine how OTDs and the wider community can better understand the requirements in relation to assessment processes and appeal mechanisms available to OTDs.

The Committee has also been asked to report on the support programs available through Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and other professional organisations to assist OTDs in meeting their registration requirements. Ways to improve these services will also be investigated.

Finally, the Committee has been asked to suggest how impediments could be removed, and pathways promoted, to assist OTDs in achieving full Australian qualifications, particularly in regional areas, without lowering the current standards as set by professional and regulatory bodies.

Submissions relating to the terms of reference are due by 4 February 2011.

Diabetes in pregnancy: its impact on Australian women and their babies (AIHW)

Diabetes is known to adversely affect women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and delivery. These adverse effects differ by type of diabetes and between population groups. Diabetes in pregnancy: its impact on Australian women and their babies is the first to explore these differences among Australian mothers and their babies at a national level, showing that:

* diabetes affects about 1 in 20 pregnancies

* mothers with pre-existing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and their babies, are at highest risk of adverse effects

* mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus, and their babies, are also at increased risk

* Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies are more likely to experience adverse effects than non-Indigenous mothers and their babies.

This report is a useful resource for policymakers, researchers, clinicians and others interested in the effect of diabetes on the health of Australian mothers and their babies.

Media release

Residential aged care in Australia 2008-09 and Aged care packages in the community 2008-09: a statistical overview (AIHW aged care reports)

Residential aged care in Australia 2008-09 provides comprehensive statistical information on residential aged care facilities and services, their residents, admissions and separations, and residents' dependency levels. At 30 June 2009, there were over 178,000 residential aged care places, an increase of 1.6% compared with 30 June 2008. Almost 82,000 permanent residents (59%) had a recorded diagnosis of dementia at 30 June 2009. Other recorded health conditions affecting residents included circulatory diseases (42,000 residents) and diseases of the musculoskeletal and connective tissue (26,800 residents).

Media release

Aged care packages in the community 2008-09: a statistical overview

At 30 June 2009, over 44,000 people were receiving help from a community aged care package, including just over 23,300 new admissions during 2008-09. The findings suggest that proportionate to their populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and those from non-English-speaking countries used community aged care packages at a higher rate compared with other Australians.

Media release

Antidepressants may help violent offenders

A new study has found that violent offenders are less likely to commit another assault if they are given antidepressive drugs. Some of the side effects of antidepressant drugs is that they can also reduce irritability, aggression and impulsive behaviour.

A group of Australian forensic psychiatrists studied the effects of the drugs when given to violent offenders who were not suffering depression.

Families, experts meet on mental health

Experts including mental health reform advocate Patrick McGorry will meet with families affected by mental illness at a summit in Brisbane on Wednesday. About 150 people are expected to attend Queensland's first community mental health summit and Premier Anna Bligh says it's the first event of its type in Australia.

General practice activity in Australia 2009-10 and General practice activity in Australia 2000-01 to 2009-10: 10 year data tables (AIHW)

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released two new reports :

General practice activity in Australia 2009-10

This report presents results from the twelfth year of BEACH program, a national study of general practice activity. From April 2009 to March 2010, 988 general practitioners recorded data about 98,800 GP-patient encounters involving the management of 155,373 problems. For an 'average' 100 encounters, GPs recorded 107 medications, 35 clinical treatments, 18 procedures, 9 referrals to specialists and 4 to allied health services, and ordered 45 pathology and 10 imaging tests.

Media release

General practice activity in Australia 2000-01 to 2009-10: 10 year data tables

This report presents results from the most recent 10 years (April 2000 to March 2010) of the BEACH program, a national cross-sectional study of general practice activity. During this time 9,842 GPs provided details of almost 1 million GP-patient encounters. Readers can review changes that have occurred over the decade in the characteristics of general practitioners and the patients they see; the problems managed; and the treatments provided. Changes in patients' body mass index, smoking status and alcohol use are described for a subsample of adult patients.

Media release

National Mental Health Report 2010 (Department of Health and Ageing)

The National Mental Health Report 2010, which is the eleventh in the series, presents the latest data on progress made under the National Mental Health Strategy. The report provides a fifteen year view of trends and performance at the national and state and territory levels, over the period scanning the First, Second and Third National Mental Health Plans from 1993 to 2008. Extensive information is presented that describes changes in the resources and structure of mental health services in Australia since the commencement of the strategy.

Floods a 'major setback' for rural mental health

The drastic change of events caused by the recent floods will be a "major setback" to the improvement of mental wellbeing in rural areas, National Rural Health Alliance executive director Gordon Gregory said .

Suicide rates in rural Australia this year are 33 percent higher than in major cities and may be higher in extremely remote areas. The floods, which are currently affecting 50 percent of NSW and stretch from Victoria to Queensland, are predicted to have a detrimental effect on the rural psyche, Mr Gregory said.

Patient-centred care: improving quality and safety by focusing care

Patient-centred care: improving quality and safety by focusing care is a discussion paper from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Based on national and international movements towards patient-centred policies in health care, (and taking into account Australia's health care system, with its mix of public and private sectors), various recommendations are outlined:

* Patient-centred care should be considered a dimension of quality in its own right.

* Nationally standardised patient survey tools should be implemented.

* Patient surveys should include questions specifically addressing patient centred domains

* Performance-based payments should include "improving patient care experience" as an indicator

* Data regarding patient care experience in health services should be made publicly available on the Internet.

Social media and the medical profession

The Australian Medical Association (AMA)has released Social media and the medical profession to assist doctors and medical students to maintain professional standards when using online social media. The guide was developed by the AMA Council of Doctors-in-Training(AMACDT), the New Zealand Medical Association Doctors-in-Training Council, the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association, and the Australian Medical Students’ Association. AMACDT Chair, Dr Michael Bonning, said that evidence is emerging that the use of online social media can pose risks for medical professionals and doctors have recently faced disciplinary action for their online behaviour.

Media release

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2008-09 (AIHW)

Around 143,000 alcohol and other drug treatment episodes were provided in Australia in 2008-09. More episodes of this treatment were for alcohol than any other drug type, and this proportion has now risen four years in a row. As with previous years, counselling was more prevalent than any other type of treatment. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2008-09: report on the National Minimum Data Set presents data such as these on publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services and their clients.

Media release

"Your room" drug and alcohol information website

The "Your room" website is a joint project of NSW Health and the Alcohol and Drug Information Service that aims to deliver online drug and alcohol information to the people of NSW including: A to Z of drugs; helplines and treatment options; campaigns and online resource ordering; community action contacts and an interactive game.

Casebook of Primary Healthcare Innovations: Picking up the pace: How to accelerate change in primary healthcare

This recently published casebook by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation documents many of the innovations being implemented across Canada as part of the renewal of primary healthcare. It includes cases on interdisciplinary teams, payment reform, rural and indigenous settings, primary healthcare governance models, and discusses models that have not been taken up.

Smart technology for healthy longevity

With the demographic ageing of Australia's population, a suite of emerging innovative technologies offers the prospect of enhanced security, safety, diagnosis, treatment and physical assistance to improve the quality of life for elderly people, to help them remain at home, and to provide financial savings in aged care and medical treatment.

The key finding of this report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering is that a national thrust on the development and application of smart technology for healthy longevity is vital to ensure a healthy, safe, secure and fulfilling future for the increasing aged population in Australia and the maintenance of a healthy, harmonious and prosperous society.

Because the elderly are more frequent users of health services and because medical researchers are developing new drugs and procedures linked to age, the Australian Government's 2010 Intergenerational Report suggests that health spending on those aged over 65 is likely to increase sevenfold. There will be a need for new models of health care and training to deal with this situation. Technology can offer possible solutions to issues of safety and security, diagnosis and treatment, while assistive technologies offer the potential to reduce costs.

New reports on Australian oral health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released five new reports on oral health :

Age and the costs of dental care

Trends in access to dental care among Australian adults: in brief

Socioeconomic variation in periodontitis among Australian adults 2004-06

Self-rated oral health of adults

Trends in access to dental care among Australian teenagers

Media release