News in brief: TAVI trial kicks off in Australia; Rural training the answer to specialist shortage, says RACP; Neither major party stacking up on health, says AMA

5 May 2022

TAVI trial for symptomatic moderate AS patients kicks off in Australia

A clinical trial testing the efficacy of transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) in symptomatic patients with moderate aortic stenosis (AS) has kicked off in Australia with the first implant successfully inserted in an eligible patient.

On Monday, Dr Ross Roberts-Thomson interventional cardiologist at Royal Adelaide Hospital tweeted he was “proud” his team had performed the country’s first procedure in the Australian and US PROGRESS Moderate AS trial, exploring TAVI’s impact on death, stroke, unplanned cardiovascular hospitalisation, symptoms and other evidence of heart failure versus standard medical therapy.

Dr Roberts-Thomson told the limbic it’s “quite an exciting trial”, adding that “it will sort of change the way we think about moderate aortic stenosis, if it’s positive, and it will certainly be the first trial to ever just look at moderate aortic stenosis and whether TAVI would benefit patients”.

He noted that a previous study by Professor Geoffery Strange, creator, director and chief investigator of the National Echo Database of Australia and New Zealand, found moderate AS had similar mortality rates to severe AS.

The Australian leg is expected to recruit over the next three to six months, Dr Roberts-Thomson said.

After that, they’ll be following patients for 2-year outcomes and beyond. The trial is set to end in June 2037.

Rural training the answer to specialist shortage, says RACP

Additional specialist training places are needed in rural and remote areas to combat doctor shortages outside the major cities, the RACP is arguing.

With well over 100 doctors currently on the waitlist for its registrar program, the college says it is confident of filling any number of extra positions if funded by the Federal Government.

“There is no shortage of interest in these positions – the limiting factor is available government funding,” says RACP president-elect Dr Jacqueline Small.

“We also would like to see commitments of longer-term planning and funding to address regional healthcare shortages that go beyond election cycles.”

It comes after the Coalition announced it would inject an extra $145 million in new funding for rural health if re-elected later this month, mostly focused on additional training places in general practice.

“Any move that increases the capacity of our healthcare system in regional areas is a welcome one,” Dr Small said.

“Unfortunately, there remains a significant shortage of non-GP specialists in many rural and regional areas, and we encourage the Government to expand the program to allow for more positions for specialists to be trained.

The RACP administered around 380 positions annually under the Federal Government’s specialist training program, she added.

Neither major party stacking up on health, says AMA

Medicare is “friendless” so far during the federal election campaign, with neither major party offering anything substantial on health, the AMA says.

While both Labor and the Coalition have talked up their commitment to the health system, AMA vice president Dr Chris Moy says it’s mostly been spin.

Dr Moy took to breakfast TV last week to slam both parties as “horrendous” so far, offering “piecemeal stuff” instead of polices to stop the logjam in hospitals or improve access to care,

“The AMA will be providing a report card at the end of this to actually cut through all the rubbish and noise and we will give them a scorecard,” he told Nine’s Today Show.

“We are calling it the True Friend of Medicare Cup because they all want to be friends of Medicare, but neither of them are actually doing a very good job at the moment.

The AMA wants reforms including government employment of GP registrars, more cash for public hospitals and a bump in private health insurance rebates for younger and lower income Australians.


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