News in brief: Senior cardiology staff stood down over bullying claims; Preventive DNA screening for FH to be piloted; Prescription costs eased with PBS Safety Net changes


Senior cardiology staff stood down over bullying claims

Some senior staff from Canberra Hospital’s cardiology department have been stood down following allegations of bullying of trainees, nurses, allied health and admin staff for more than a decade.

The action comes as part of a crackdown from Canberra Health Services into senior staff who have been accused of long-term bullying, harassment and poor behaviour, according to the Canberra Times.

It says a legal firm was engaged to conduct an investigation into claims of bullying and delivered a report that alleged that some staff were arrogant and acting with a sense of entitlement, and a toxic work environment.

Some cardiology staff have been stood down pending further investigation by the service’s Professional Standards Unit, the Times reports.


Preventive DNA screening for FH to be piloted

A pilot study will take Australia one step closer to offering preventive DNA screening for inherited conditions including familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) via the public health care system, its developers say.

The DNA Screen pilot study will offer preventive DNA screening for FH, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) and Lynch syndrome to 10,000 Australians aged 18–40 years, according to an article in the MJA this week.

Recruitment for the study, designed by the DNA Screen Investigator Group and funded by the Medical Research Future Fund Genomics Health Futures Mission, will start in mid 2022.

About 2% of participants are expected to have high risk screening results and will be provided with genetic counselling and referrals to relevant state-based clinical services in the public health care system for risk management, and for cascade testing of first degree blood relatives.


Prescription costs eased with PBS Safety Net changes

Patients with chronic diseases will have the financial burden for medication costs eased by an announcement of the lowering of PBS safety net thresholds in the 2022 Budget.

From July 1 the threshold for access for general patients will be lowered by the equivalent of two scripts, from $1,542.10 to $1,457.10, a saving of up to $85. This means that after the equivalent of about 34 full-priced general co-payments, general patients pay only the concessional co-payment of $6.80 per PBS script for the balance of the year.

For concession card holders, the threshold will be reduced by the equivalent of 12 scripts from $326.40 to $244.80, a saving of up to $81.60. When concession card holders reach the safety net threshold, after 36 full-priced concessional scripts, they will receive PBS medicines at no charge for the balance of the year.

The measure is costing $525.3 million over four years from 2022–23.

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