News in brief: The world’s top 4 neurology hospitals; AMA ‘secession’ move slammed; Doctors now eligible for COVID-19 boosters

1 Nov 2021

The world’s top neurology hospitals: where is Australia?

Newsweek has released its 2021 list of the top specialist hospitals globally, but Australia is not among the four list for neurology.

The top specialised hospitals for 2021 in neurology are:

  • Christian-Doppler-Klinik Salzburg – Universitätsklinikum der PMU, Salzburg, Australia
  • Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy
  • Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche Bologna, Italy
  • National Hospital For Neurology and Neurosurgery – Queen Square, London, UK

The list of is part of a wider series of rankings of the World’s Best Hospitals — drawn up by global data research firm Statista Inc, and covers 25 countries, including United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada. Newsweek says the lists are based on  medical KPIs on hospitals, recommendations from medical experts (doctors, hospitals managers, health care professionals), and results from patient surveys. However while two Victorian hospitals feature in the global top 100 for general hospitals (The Alfred in Melbourne ranked 57 and the Royal Melbourne at 81), there were none from Down Under listed under neurology specialist hospitals.

AMA ‘secession’ move slammed

A move by AMA Victoria to offer cheaper ‘Associate’ membership that does not include membership of the Federal AMA has been condemned by some senior figures as effectively seceding from the national medical union.

The state branch is offering a ‘low cost membership option’ that is 40% cheaper than the full annual membership rates of $1582, and which provides the benefits and services of the AMA Victoria branch.

AMA Victoria told the ABC it had simply created an “additional membership category which offers doctors more choice, flexibility and pricing transparency”.

However Dr Stephen Parnis, a former AMA Victoria President and Vice President of the Federal AMA said the move would undermine the authority of the Federal AMA and also irreparably diminish the resources and policy strength of the AMA at state level

The move was also opposed by Federal AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid, who urged doctors to maintain their full membership while the Federal body sought to resolve its issues with the Victorian arm.

Docors now eligible for COVID-19 boosters – ATAGI

Doctors and other healthcare staff at increased occupational risk of COVID-19 are among the high priority groups to receive booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine, according to new recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

In advice released on 27 October, ATAGI said an additional vaccine dose after the primary vaccine course was warranted for people with risk factors for severe COVID-19 and/or those at increased occupational risk of COVID-19.

For people at increased occupational risk of COVID-19, ATAGI states that a booster dose is expected to reduce their likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection and associated occupation-related impacts, “acknowledging that infection will be mostly mild in these individuals due to prior vaccination and younger age. Booster doses may also reduce the potential for infected individuals to transmit SARS-CoV-2, although evidence for this is currently limited.”

“To facilitate implementation of the national COVID-19 vaccine booster program, ATAGI supports the use of a single booster dose for those who completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine course ≥6 months ago. This will initially include, but not be limited to, the groups above who were prioritised in the rollout of the vaccine program from early 2021,” it said

Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine is recommended as a single booster dose, irrespective of the primary COVID-19 vaccine used. Although not preferred, AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) can also be used as a booster dose for people who received it for their first two doses, and also for people who had a significant adverse reaction after a previous mRNA vaccine dose.


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