Monthly Archives: June 2019

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British knighthood for Wizard of Oz

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby is in line to receive a knighthood, sparking a fresh row over cronyism in the British honours system.

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A Whitehall source has revealed the 58-year-old will receive the gong in the New Year Honours List on Thursday, The Sunday Times reports.

The election guru, who has been dubbed the “Wizard of Oz”, started working for Mr Cameron in 2013 and is credited with masterminding the Conservative party’s first outright win for more than 30 years in May.

Previously he had helped Boris Johnson become mayor of London.

Mr Crosby’s supporters say he brought focus and professionalism that had been lacking in the Conservative party machine.

But he became embroiled in a row over his links to the tobacco industry.

He was forced to deny playing any part in the government’s decision to shelve plans for cigarette plain packaging when it emerged his lobbying consultancy CTF had been working for tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris.

Britain’s Labour Party also highlighted his tax arrangements after he was linked to a network of offshore companies.

Mr Cameron has been accused of using the honours system to reward friends, political allies and donors.

Labour MP John Mann condemned the award for Mr Crosby, saying it degraded the honours system and was “an insult to the country’s heroes”.

Alexandra Runswick, the director of Unlock Democracy, which campaigns for political reform, also condemned the award, saying the honours system was supposed to be about rewarding dedicated public service.

“David Cameron using it to reward a lobbyist and political consultant who helped get him elected demeans the honours system and undermines trust in politics, ” she told The Sunday Times.

Mr Crosby is eligible to receive an honour under the British system as Australia is one of 15 “Commonwealth realms” that have the Queen as their monarch.

Boof to have break but he wants more

Darren Lehmann will take a temporary break from coaching Australia next year but he has no plans to leave the post.

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Australia will travel to the Caribbean in June for a one-day international tri-series against West Indies and South Africa.

Lehmann will sit the trip out, with Western Australia coach Justin Langer to mentor the squad in his absence.

Langer is viewed as Lehmann’s likely successor.

But the man who replaced Mickey Arthur on the eve of the 2013 Ashes still has plenty he wants to achieve.

“I’d love us to win in the sub-continent for a start. Play better cricket there,” Lehmann said.

“The T20 (World Cup), that’s another one, and obviously defend the (ODI) World Cup.

“There’s a couple of goals there but end of the day you’re guided by results along the way and how you go.”

England are hosting both the ODI World Cup and Ashes in 2019, with Lehmann desperate for his side to win both.

“That is still a burning desire,” Lehmann said of Australia’s next Test tour of England.

“We let ourselves down this year. 2013 was a different scenario, we were changing the whole setup.

“I’d love to have another crack at that. But you’re guided by results along the way, you can’t look that far ahead.”

Lehmann conceded the job wasn’t something he could do “long term”.

“Not international coaching. You’re away 300 days a year,” he said.

“The one-day series (in England this year), I was pretty much cooked.

“You can’t go that long in a run. That tour was four-and-a-half months in the end. You’ve got to make sure you freshen up as best you can.

“We’re always trying to give our coaches and our support staff a bit of a break. This is the first sort of break I’ve had since I’ve taken over.”

Lehmann will spend time with his family but also start planning for next summer, when South Africa and Pakistan are both touring.

He hopes the break will prolong his career.

“I haven’t got an end date in mind. I’ll go for a while yet,” he said.

“You try to tick off all the boxes you want to as a coach, and hopefully you’ve achieved them, then it’s probably someone else’s turn.”

Henriques’ season in doubt due to injury

Moises Henriques’ Big Bash League campaign looks over, and his shot at a spot in the Australian side for the summer’s international short-form fixtures is in jeopardy, due to a calf injury suffered in Sydney Sixer’s five-wicket loss to Melbourne Stars.

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Henriques injured the calf as he attempted a run in his top score of 41 in the Sixers’ total of 6-139.

The Sixers captain was forced to retire hurt and was taken from the SCG on Sunday night in a medicab.

He’s injured the same left calf he hurt in the Sheffield Shield in November. That injury sidelined him for a month.

Henriques, who has played three Tests, six ODIs and four Twenty20 fixtures for Australia, also struggled with calf trouble last summer.

The 28-year-old will go for scans on the injury on Monday.

Nic Maddinson filled in as Sixers skipper in the loss to the Stars.

He said Henriques had given no indication as to how serious he felt the injury might be.

“He is a little bit disappointed, he was icing it up when I went in so I can’t be sure how it is,” Maddinson said after the match.

“We are feeling for him. He has just come back from a calf injury and suffered another one last year.

“It is a little bit disappointing but until we know the severity of it, it is hard to say how he is feeling.”

The Stars’ win, with half-centuries from Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handscomb, was the side’s first of the season from three games. Sydney’s loss leaves the Sixers at 2-2.

Maxwell said it was difficult to watch his friend Henriques go down with the injury.

“Moises was hitting the ball beautifully and I really feel for him, we have been mates for a while,” Maxwell said.

“He is really putting his name down for one-day contention and for him to go down, my heart breaks for him because he seems to have these setbacks nonstop.

“All I can hope is that he has a speedy recovery but it was pretty hard to watch.”

Medicare review: The 23 items set to be axed and what they mean

**Please note this is a December 2015 story, for more recent coverage see:

 

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler says the removal of items from the Medicare Benefits Schedule could lead to higher out-of-pocket costs for patients.

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Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley announced on Monday 23 tests and procedures, including ear, nose and throat surgeries and diagnostic imaging, have been recommended for removal as part of a major shake up of Medicare.

Ms Ley said in a statement the 23 items, which also include gastroenterology, obstetrics and thoratic medicine services, cost $6.8 million in the past year and were used 52,500 times.

“This first stage of work has provided recommendations about the immediate removal of lower-volume MBS items in some specific specialities where there is clinical consensus that they are ‘obsolete’ and no longer represent clinical best-practice,” she said.

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“These are also items that clinical experts deem will not have adverse impacts on a patient’s access to health services if removed.

“Reasons range from more-clinically appropriate and/or efficient technologies and procedures already listed on the MBS through to patient safety, unnecessary doubling-up of item claims and decreasing usage.”

However Professor Owler criticised Ms Ley for saying the items were obsolete before the consultation process had even begun.

“It is really not up to the minister to make those sorts of comments,” he told SBS News.

“If she’s already made up her mind there’s no point in having this consultation.”

Professor Owler said the removal of some of the items, like older diagnostic imaging services, “would not be too controversial”, but “just because something is not used often it doesn’t mean it is obsolete”.

He said some patients would be left out-of-pocket as some of the items recommended for removal were part of other procedures or were used for very specific circumstances.

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“That is the AMA has been concerned about with this process all along,” Professor Owler said.

“It is a cost-cutting exercise, they’re looking to make savings. We are concerned patients will be left out-of-pocket.”

He said there were also questions among medical professionals about how long it would take for new items to be included in the Medicare schedule.

Ms Ley said the task force reviewing all the 5700 items on the MBS would seek further advice before scrapping the first 23 items.

“It is important to understand that this is not by any means a comprehensive or complete list of final findings about the final makeup of the MBS,” she said.

“It is also important to remember further advice from the Taskforce will not just focus on the removal of items from the MBS altogether, but also maintaining clinically-relevant MBS items, the addition of new MBS items where appropriate, and more intricate changes around the rules governing the eligibility and use of an MBS item for a particular patient cohort.”

What’s on the chopping block?

Imaging:

– Intravenous Pyelography: an X-ray test of the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract.

– Graham’s Test (cholecystography): an X-ray examination of the gallbladder and bile duct.

– Pelvimetry: an assessment of the female pelvis in relation to a woman’s ability to deliver a baby.

– Bronchography: an X-ray examination of the respiratory system inside the lung after they have coated in a contrast dye.

– Vasoepididymography: using a contrast dye to examine the vas deferens and epididymis in male genitalia.

– Peritoneogram (herniography): an imaging technique used to detect certain types of hernias.

– Venography: an X-ray of the veins using a dye injected using a catheter into the veins or bone marrow.

Ear, nose and throat surgeries:

– Klockoff’s tests: four separate tests to measure hearing.

– Glossopharyngeal nerve (serves tongue and throat) injection with anaesthetic.

– Cryotherapy to nose: use of extreme cold to treat to nasal haemorrhage.

– Cryotherapy to turbinates: use of extreme cold to treat turbinates, which warm the air we breath.

– Division of pharyngeal adhesions: An operation to the pharynx.

– Direct examination: of postnasal space (behind nose) with or without removing tissue.

– Direct examination of Larynx, with removal of tissue.

– Direct examination of the Larynx’s sub regions.

Gastroenterology:

– Gastric hypothermia: without gastrointestinal haemorrhage using a refrigerant.

– Gastric hypothermia: with upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage using a refrigerant.

– Biliary manometry: measurement of pressure relating to bile ducts.

– Sigmoidoscopic examination: rectal examination of lower intestine and application of heat or removal of polyps, less than 45 minutes.

– Sigmoidoscopic examination: rectal examination of lower intestine and application of heat or removal of polyps, more than 45 minutes.

Obstetrics:

– Treatment of habitual miscarriage: with injections of hormones, not administered via routine checks during pregnancy.

Thoracic medicine:

– Bronchospirometry: the study of gas exchanged from each lung separately by placing a catheter in one lung’s major air passage.

Study to find best time for heart surgery

A new British study aims to help doctors better pinpoint when to operate on heart disease patients.

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The research will cost STG1.3 million ($A2.66 million) and look at tracking more effectively when a heart is starting to fail, helping medics decide the best time to perform surgery while minimising the risk to patients’ health.

Operating too early can put heart patients at unnecessary risk but intervening too late can mean heart muscle becomes irreversibly damaged.

The Edinburgh study, which will recruit between 200 and 300 patients in Scotland, will focus on patients with the most common form of valve disease, known as aortic stenosis.

The condition is caused by the narrowing of a major valve, which puts heart muscle under pressure and reduces its capacity to pump properly. It can lead to heart failure and sudden death.

Gauging the severity of heart valve disease can pose difficulties, particularly in older patients who may suffer from a number of other health conditions.

The trial will see patients undergo detailed heart scans and blood tests to track the capacity of their heart to pump blood, providing a baseline against which their future heart function can be compared.

Half of the patients will receive early surgery, and the other half will be given treatment later.

By analysing patients’ heart function before and after surgery, doctors will determine what impact replacement valves have had. They will also be able to tell at which point the surgery has had the greatest effect.

The project is funded by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust through its annual Award for Biomedical Research.

Dr Marc Dweck, British Heart Foundation research fellow at Edinburgh University, said: “This type of heart disease is very common and, with an ageing population, we are set for an epidemic. Rates are set to treble by 2050, so it is crucial to develop new interventions now.”