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Health Bulletin

RK Health Insights 27 July

The latest insights from our Health Law team.

In this edition:

Learn more about Russell Kennedy's expertise in the Health sector here.

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Victorian government accepts recommendations for assisted dying framework

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The Victorian state government has accepted all 66 of the recommendations proposed by the independent Ministerial Advisory Panel (“Panel”) report on voluntary assisted dying. The Panel was tasked with developing a safe and compassionate voluntary assisted dying framework for Victoria as a result of the findings of the Inquiry into End of Life Choices (“Inquiry”).

The framework proposed by the Panel is a result of significant public consultation and generally mirrors the findings of the Inquiry. The report sets out eligibility criteria, assessment by medical practitioners, oversight and implementation issues. The framework contains multiple safeguards making it one of the strictest in the world.

Following the Andrews’ government acceptance of the recommendations, it has announced that legislation will be introduced into Parliament later this year.

The Panel’s final report is available here.

Class action begins against maker of vaginal mesh implants

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Shine Lawyers has commenced a class action against Johnson & Johnson Medical Pty Ltd and Ethicon in the Federal Court for faulty vaginal mesh implants which were used to treat weakened or damaged pelvic floor tissue.

It is claimed that the mesh implants were not fit for their purpose, were not of merchantable quality and were not safe. Many women are claiming that they have suffered organ perforation, incontinence, pain, infection, bleeding and erosion of the vaginal wall or into nearby organs.

More than 700 women have joined the Australian class action, which alleges that Johnson & Johnson failed to properly test the devices and then played down their risk to both surgeons and patients. No randomised controlled trials were conducted, and it is alleged the testing that was conducted was too short term. The class action also accuses Johnson & Johnson of embarking on an “aggressive marketing campaign” to sell the implants as a quick, easy, and therefore a lucrative alternative to treatment options, such as native tissue repair.

On 13 July 2012 the FDA issued an update advising of the serious complications associated with transvaginal mesh for pelvic organ prolapse. The Senate is also conducting an inquiry into pelvic mesh implants.

More information can be found here.

Public statement of water fluoridation open for public consultation

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The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released its draft public statement on water fluoridation for public consultation and submission.

The NHMRC draft statement strongly recommends that community water fluoridation is a safe, effective and ethical method of reducing tooth decay in Australia and states that there is no reliable evidence to suggest fluoridation is the cause of any health problems.

Water fluoridation was introduced into Australia as early as 1964 in Canberra and Hobart with other states and territories following shortly after. The draft statement examines the scientific evidence behind the continued use of water fluoridation.

Public submissions can be made up until 3 August 2017.

The draft public statement can be found here.

Skilled migration visa changes

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The Commonwealth Government has announced the restoration of key medical technology, research and pharmaceutical occupations to the skilled migration visa list.

While previously unavailable occupations such as biochemist, biotechnologist, microbiologist, and natural and physical scientists have been added to the medium and long-term strategic skills list, and nurse researchers added to the short-term list, chemists have been upgraded from the short-term to the long-term list.

Six representative bodies have welcomed the changes, with a joint statement affirming that Australia “will be able to continue to thrive as a home for some of the world’s most talented scientists and medical researchers, improve its position as a centre for high-quality R&D in medical science and receive the associated spill over benefits.”

The joint statement can be found here, and a full summary of the changes can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website.

Managing redundancies

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Restructures and mergers are often accompanied by redundancies. Organisations can be caught out when attempting to implement redundancies, unaware of the extent of their employee’s entitlements to consultation, redeployment, severance pay and other benefits.

Russell Kennedy’s Workplace Relations, Employment and Safety team have produced a checklist to help organisations identify key issues and common stumbling blocks when implementing redundancies. To best prepare and protect your organisation during periods of change, access our redundancy checklist here.

To download your free PDF copy, click here.