NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHOs to deliver Integrated Team Care Program

The image in the feature tile is from the Nhulundu Health Service (Gladstone, QLD) Integrated Team Care  webpage.

ACCHOs to deliver Integrated Team Care Program

Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) in Western NSW will reap new funding from a revised program which aims to improve health outcomes for Indigenous patients with chronic illnesses, while also increasing capabilities of the services themselves.

CEO of Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN), Andrew Coe, has announced the Integrated Team Care Program will be delivered by AMSs in the region from January 1, 2023.

“We are very excited that the revised Integrated Team Care Program is giving us the opportunity to support the enhancement of capacity and capability in our region’s AMSs and deliver even better health outcomes for Indigenous people living with chronic disease in Western NSW,” Mr Coe said.

WNSW PHN’s decision and new funding from the Integrated Team Care Program was welcomed by CEO of Coonamble, Dubbo and Gilgandra AMSs, Phil Naden. “I’m looking forward to a strengthened approach in working with WNSW PHN and I’m keen to commence the project in our locations to service Aboriginal clients in the region,” Mr Naden said.

The revised program was a “powerful opportunity” for service providers and people in their care, according to chief executive officer of Orange AMS, Jamie Newman. “Our organisation is very excited by the ‘place based’ approach by WNSW PHN for the Integrated Team Care Program and the disbursement of funds to each AMS in the region,” Mr Newman said.

“We are ultimately responsible for the care and treatment of our clients in Orange and to have the authority to make a decision on additional support for our clients who meet the Integrated Team Care criteria is welcomed and supported by our team”.

Walgett AMS (WAMS) CEO Christine Corby and chief operations manager for WAMS and Brewarrina AMS (BAMS), Katrina Ward, said the revised program was “guaranteed” to help local people wanting care.

To view the Daily Liberal article Western NSW Primary Health Network announces Integrated Care program funding will boost Aboriginal Medical Services in full click here.

Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation (MKAC) ITCP staff. Image source: MKAC website.

COVID isolation rule change ‘too early’

The NT’s peak Aboriginal health body has criticised national cabinet’s decision to scrap mandatory COVID isolation rules. From October 14, COVID-positive people will no longer be required  to isolate for five days at home.

John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), said it was “too early” to let COVID-positive people freely move about the community and potentially spread the virus. “We’ve had more Aboriginal deaths in the Northern Territory from COVID than non-Aboriginal people,” he told ABC Radio Darwin. “We have to ensure that we keep the most at-risk population safe and prevent this very serious virus from entering into our vulnerable communities.”

To view the ABC News article AMSANT boss John Paterson says COVID isolation rule change is ‘too early’ for ‘vulnerable’ Aboriginal communities in full click here.

A related LADbible article Expert warns it’s too early to ditch Covid-19 isolation rules due to vulnerable Indigenous communities can be read here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

AMA rejects NSW pharmacist trial

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has urged the NSW State Government to abandon any consideration of a trial that would allow pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections (UTIs), saying it will lead to poorer outcomes for patients. AMA Federal President Professor Steve Robson said  “There are critical issues facing general practice with years of underfunding pushing significant numbers of GPs to retire earlier, while fewer doctors are choosing general practice as a speciality.”

“Governments need to come to the table with viable solutions to support general practice and build collaborative models of care — not changes that completely undervalue the quality of care that is provided through general practice and fragment patient care. This dangerous experiment signals a lack of respect for general practice and the years of training, experience, and knowledge required to properly diagnose and treat a medical condition. If implemented in NSW, it will have dire consequences for the future of the workforce.”

Professor Robson said the trial was bad for general practice and there was also little prospect that it would alleviate pressure on our public hospitals.

To view the AMA media release Pharmacist prescribing a dangerous proposition which won’t fix workforce issue in full click here.

Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Improving maternity services for mob

More than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, will join together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families. The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe is being co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the Northern Territory.

To view the joint CAAC and CDU media release Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women in full click here.

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Involuntary treatment could cause harm

Clinicians in charge of admitting people to involuntary drug and alcohol treatment are concerned about potentially re-traumatising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the process, according to Australian research. The team conducted in-depth interviews with 11 clinicians, 6 of whom had committed a First Nations person to one of two facilities in NSW.

The researchers say while nine of the 11 participants say ethnicity does not influence the decision to refer someone to involuntary care, 10 of 11 said they were worried the process could be culturally unsafe. Taking people off their country and removing them from their families were major concerns, the researchers say. Greater involvement of Aboriginal healthcare services and care that approaches physical health, mental health and addiction at the same time were proposed as potential ways to improve the system.

To view the SCIMEX article Clinicians worry admitting First Nations people to involuntary drug and alcohol treatment could cause harm in full click here.

Image source: Dreamstime website.

Access to vital blood tests in remote health

A newly funded Flinders University project is looking to improve access to full blood examination tests for rural and remote healthcare patients, improving patient outcomes and reducing health costs, while ensuring equitable health access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Despite being the most requested lab pathology test in Australia, full blood examination tests are not reliably accessible in rural and remote communities, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment.

The study will trial a newly available point-of-care testing (POCT) device which provides full blood examination results in less than 10 minutes, a significant improvement from the current laboratory test turn-around times of around 3 to 7 days in remote communities. Project Chief Investigator Dr Brooke Spaeth, Research Fellow and Coordinator of Flinders University’s NT POCT Program, says the availability of the test is especially important for time-critical clinical conditions, such as sepsis, where early and accurate diagnosis can significantly improve patient outcomes and has the potential to save lives.

“The rapid results of the point-of-care full blood examination test is likely to improve the diagnosis detection of sepsis, which disproportionately effects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in remote communities of the NT, therefore reducing sepsis related morbidity and mortality,” says Dr Spaeth.

To view the Flinders University media release Ensuring access to vital blood tests in remote health care in full click here.

Image source: Well in Truth website.

Youth offender laws to be reviewed

After years of crises in WA’s youth justice system the State Government announced on Tuesday it will undertake a review of youth offender laws. Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston has directed the Department of Justice to examine the extent to which the Young Offenders Act 1994 is achieving its objectives.

Banksia Hill, WA’s only dedicated youth detention facility, has been the scene of multiple serious disturbances including riots in 2013 and 2017. Aboriginal children are radically over-represented in the youth justice system and particularly in youth detention. Recent data shows Indigenous young people are 21 times as likely as non-Indigenous youth to be incarcerated in WA.

This month the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA told the Royal Commission they had received hundreds of complaints about conditions in Banksia Hill, including allegations of excessive physical violence, strip searches, sexual assaults, use of solitary confinement, and racism.

Indigenous and international human rights law expert Hannah McGlade said the review was welcome but there was also a need for urgent reform. “A youth justice task force needs to be urgently established to address the crisis. There are serious concerns Aboriginal children and youth are at high risk of self-harm including suicide. We are calling on the government to support and ensure Aboriginal children (in the justice system) have culturally appropriate health care from Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article WA Government to review crisis-plagued youth offender laws in full click here.

Photo: Danella Bevis. Image source: The West Australian.

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