Friday, March 2, 2012

Qld: Nobel laureate slates health cutbacks

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Qld: Nobel laureate slates health cutbacks

By Paul Osborne

BRISBANE, Aug 20 AAP - Federal and state governments were undervaluing the health system,Nobel Prize winning scientist Peter Doherty said today.

Professor Doherty told the annual Science in Parliament Forum in Brisbane he was concernedabout the long-term impact of cutbacks in health care.

"We have a value in our hospital system - the current political climate, the way itis working, is undervaluing this," Prof Doherty said.

"Everyone is trying to cut back on health care costs ... we desperately need to keepour public health systems together."

Prof Doherty said of particular concern was the need to maintain and make availablepatient records, which could help scientists develop new treatments.

He said the federal government needed to ensure that privacy laws were not drawn insuch a way that it stopped researchers from accessing information, such as patient histories,treatment outcomes and life outcomes.

"That is an enormous resource," Prof Doherty said.

He said the St Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, of whichhe was chairman, was a good model for how such information could be used.

The hospital kept a bank of tumours from every child it had treated over four decades.

"By using new technology they were able to ... go back 40 years, look at the tumours,look at the case history of the kids and look at the outcome.

"And they were able to find certain treatments were quite useless ... many kids weretotally over treated.

"If we can tap into that, if we can make sure our medical systems are well enough organised,I think that is a good way for us to go."

AAP pjo/kj/sc/maur

KEYWORD: HEALTH DOHERTY

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