Historic pay rise for paramedics

THE NSW Government and the Health Services Union (HSU) have agreed on a historic pay increase for paramedics. Once confirmed by the Industrial Relations Commission, nearly 5,000 paramedics will receive an average wage hike of 25% over four years, ranging from 11 to 29%. The agreement reflects the shift towards university qualification and registration requirements. It establishes a new salary structure to encourage clinical innovation, a professional salary framework, and an expanded range for paramedicine practice. Partially funded from the Essential Services Fund and health portfolio savings, the $500M four-year deal aims to address a decade of wage suppression.

GPs want support for flood victims
THE Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) urges government support for GPs and teams aiding flood-affected communities, emphasising mental health care. RACGP Vice President Dr Michael Clements has requested additional resources from Federal Health Minister Mark Butler and Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman. Proposals include allowing eligible patients up to 20 Medicare-subsidized mental health consultations over 12-18 months. The RACGP also seeks funding for GPs to access Focussed Psychological Strategies Skills Training to offer advanced mental health care in regions without local mental health services. The College emphasises general practice sustainability for better disaster preparedness.

Access to medicine for skin conditions
IN 2024, the NSW Government’s pharmacy prescribing trial will make it easier for people with specific skin conditions to access prescription medicines. The trial allows authorised pharmacists to supply certain medicines after a consultation, aiming to ease pressure on primary care settings. The next phase includes treatments for impetigo and shingles, addressing dermatitis and mild plaque psoriasis. The trial, expanding to over 1,100 pharmacies, initially focused on uncomplicated urinary tract infections and the oral contraceptive pill, benefiting over 6,000 women. The skin condition treatment component will run for 12 months, enhancing timely access to care.

Future of early childhood education
THE Productivity Commission has released a draft report on the future of early childhood education and care (ECEC), aiming to establish an affordable, accessible, high-quality, universal early learning system. The report includes draft recommendations for achieving this goal. The Albanese Government has made progress with Cheaper Child Care changes reducing costs by 13.2%. Funding for 55 new ECEC services in rural areas, support for 441 existing services, and the Early Childhood Education Workforce Package have also been announced. Public hearings will be held in early 2024, with the final report expected by June 30, 2024.

Sydney ranks worst for commuters
ACCORDING to a study by Compare the Market AU, Sydney ranks as the worst commuter city in Australia, with nearly 50% of ‘commute’-related tweets being negative. Melbourne follows with a 34.9% negative sentiment. Factors contributing to dissatisfaction may include higher living costs, longer commute times, and crowded public transportation. The study also compares Australian cities globally in terms of commuting sentiment.

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