Skills shortages are continuing to have a significant impact on business performance in New South Wales, according to the recently released NSW Business Chamber - Commonwealth Bank Business Conditions Survey for the March 2011 quarter.

The survey found that as employment in NSW rises to a record level and with unemployment falling, 46.8% of businesses indicate they have a skills shortage. This represents a significant increase from November 2010, when 39% of businesses reported skills shortages.

Skills shortages have been reported across major industry sectors, with particular demand in occupations Including construction trades, technicians (e.g. refrigeration and air conditioning), metal trades, engineers, accountants, ICT professionals, health and community support services, sales and marketing, professional, scientific and technical services.

Co-workers can nominate a nurse or midwife in a range of categories, encompassing all aspects of health care.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) is convening a National Health Reform Simulation Event on 21-22 June in Canberra. The simulation will test the Commonwealth and state governments’ health reform plans and will contribute to their effective implementation.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is lobbying for pharmacists and other allied health professionals to be included in the government’s health reform agenda.

The Federal Government has committed $240 million to a major upgrade of the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Health Workforce Australia (HWA) has called for tenders to undertake a case study on the delivery of the HWA Workforce Innovation and Reform: Caring for Older People (CfOP) program, as an example of the delivery of a national change program in workforce reform.

Scientists are continuing to campaign against feared cuts to the National Health and Medical Research Council funding in next month's federal budget, amid hopes that the Federal Government may have decided against the $400 million cut.

Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has called for public sector and not-for-profit community care agencies to be preserved in any reforms to the aged care system.
The association said it was critical that the needs of vulnerable people who rely on community care services, who remain living in their own homes are not undermined by the proposed centrally managed, market-based national service system.
Councillor Bill McArthur, MAV president said it was disappointing the Productivity Commission draft report into Caring for Older Australians hadn’t given sufficient weight to the high quality home and community care services already provided by local government in Victoria.
“Councils are currently the largest public sector provider of community care for elderly Victorians and people with a disability,” he said.
“Far from operating for profit, local government has voluntarily contributed 33 per cent or over $100 million a year to the overall cost of commonwealth-state aged care programs delivered by councils. “
According to Cr McArthur when a family wishes to receive care for their elderly parent, they can currently go to a council for their assessment and service delivery.
“The Productivity Commission is proposing a central assessment and allocation of dollars to an individual who is then left to choose their own service provider/s,” he said.
“While councils have traditionally plugged the growing funding and service gaps, some may choose to opt out as service providers. Reforms proposed by the Productivity Commission could leave the system exposed.
Cr McArthur said councils played an additional unique role in linking elderly Victorians to other healthy ageing, recreation, health and social programs that keep them active in the community.
“It’s discouraging that no mechanism is proposed to connect with State and local government service planning, which is critical for improving overall health and wellbeing and ensuring community needs are met,” he said.
Community care is the key aged care program for more than 50 per cent of those aged over 75 who live at home.
It provides basic cleaning, delivered meals, personal care, home maintenance and other services to help older people age with dignity in the community.
Victoria has about 200,000 HACC clients, with more than 70 per cent also receiving a pension.
Cr McArthur said that while the MAV had challenged a number of assumptions by the Productivity Commission, some of the reform proposals were supported, including the need for a costs review and scheduled prices.
“The community aged care system has been chronically under-funded for decades, with concerning levels of un-met needs,” he said.
“Pricing that reflects actual service delivery costs is long overdue."

The Shining the Light on Child Protection E-learning Program is now available.

The Federal Government has announced a new $52.5 million round of funding for primary care infrastructure. 

The new Director-General for NSW Health, Dr Mary Foley, has written to staff of the department, outlining reforms proposed in discussions between the Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, and Governing Council Chairs and Chief Executives of Local Health Networks, Clinical Support Division Chief Operating Officers, and the senior executive of the Department of Health.

Ten new headspace youth mental health services will begin operating by the end of the year, with the announcement by the Federal Government of the selection of the lead agencies for operation.

During a visit to Western Australia today, the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, announced an extra 63 health workers are being provided to health services across the state to help close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Australian Government is providing almost $8 million for an extra 63 health workers to be placed in 27 Western Australian health services, including a large number of Aboriginal Health Services. Already 42 of the 63 workers have been recruited.

The 63 positions funded for WA are:

A new national campaign called Live Longer! has been launched to tackle chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The campaign is a central part of the Australian Government’s $21.3 million investment over four years to establish and run Local Community Campaigns.

The Federal Government has signed an agreement with the Australian Association of Pathology Practices, the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and the National Coalition of Public Pathology under which expenditure growth  on pathology through Medicare will be capped to approximately 5% per annum, resulting in savings of $550 million over the five-year period of the agreement.

A national blueprint has been released for public consultation for the development of personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) for their 1 July 2012 launch.

The WA Government has provided the Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) with funding of $1.695 million over the next two years to distribute to more than 75 non-government not-for-profit agencies.

The Western Australian Government has allocated $11.35 million over three years, for a range of health promotion programs and campaigns to fight obesity and related diseases.

The new New South Wales Minister for Mental Health, Kevin Humphries, has allocated $30 million to establish a Mental Health Commission by the end of the year.

The new NSW Coalition government has replaced the director-general of health, Debora Picone, who has been in the position for almost four years,  with Dr Mary Foley,  formerly National Health Practice Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia, and prior to that foundation Chief Executive of St Vincents & Mater Health Sydney (2001 -2008).

The Department of Health and Ageing has called tenders for the design and establishment of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health and commencement of the first wave of data collection.

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