Health in Focus Newsletter
Health in Focus

December 2018

Welcome to the third edition of the NSW Health e-bulletin, Health in Focus. This quarterly update features the latest news from the largest public health system in Australia.

If you have any suggestions, comments or ideas for future editions, please email us.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to colleagues and others who may be interested, and encourage them to subscribe online.

Baby Bundle helping parents and bubs from birth

Baby Bundle kit

From 1 January 2019, the NSW Government will support families by delivering a bag of essentials, valued at $300, for any baby born to a NSW family.

The Baby Bundle will provide parents and caregivers with products and information to support the health, development and well-being of their babies.

A sleeping bag, play and change mats, thermometers and a first aid kit are just some of the practical items available to parents as they welcome their newborn into the world.

The Baby Bundle is part of the NSW Government's $157 million parenting package.

Read more about the Baby Bundle

First statewide milk bank opens in NSW

Baby in a neonatal incubator

Earlier this month, NSW Health and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service opened the first statewide milk bank for premature babies.

Vulnerable premature babies will have a better chance of fighting off life-threatening infections and disease as a result of the newly-opened milk bank. Pasteurised donor human milk is recommended by the World Health Organisation as a first alternative to infant formula when there is insufficient mother's milk available.

The milk bank has opened in Alexandria, Sydney, and will operate under world's best practice standards – screening donors, collecting, processing and testing the donated breast milk, before tracking and distributing.

More info about the Milk Bank

New app helps parents to ‘save the date to vaccinate'

Save The Date To Vaccinate campaign artwork

NSW Health has launched an update of the Save The Date To Vaccinate app. This app helps parents and carers to stay on top of their child's immunisations by creating a personalised immunisation schedule and helpful reminder notifications.

In NSW, more than 94 per cent of children are fully immunised. However, for sustained control of vaccine preventable diseases or ‘herd immunity', a childhood immunisation rate of 95 per cent is needed. 

The Save The Date To Vaccinate campaign by NSW Health has helped to improve immunisation coverage from 91.4 per cent in 2012 to 93.9 per cent in 2017. 

The campaign is also focused on decreasing the number of parents and carers who believe immunisation should be delayed due to minor illness.

More info about the Save The Date To Vaccinate App

NSW leads emergency department care

'Emergency department care 2017–18, Australian hospital statistics' report cover artwork

NSW Emergency Departments (EDs) have delivered a strong performance according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Emergency department care 2017–18, Australian hospital statistics, released this month.

Despite having the highest number of people presenting to EDs, 80 per cent of NSW patients were seen on time compared to the national average of 72 per cent.

The findings are just one of a raft of achievements by NSW hospitals.

Read more about the Emergency department care report

Healthier food and drink choices in NSW hospitals

Healthy Food and Drink in NSW Health Facilities for Staff and Visitors Framework poster artwork

NSW Health is rolling out the Healthy Food and Drink in NSW Health Facilities for Staff and Visitors Framework to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The framework is increasing the healthy food and drink options available in health facilities, providing healthier serving sizes and removing sugar sweetened drinks with little nutritional value.

Over the New Year and summer months, staff and visitors will start to see signposting of healthy choices in food outlets. Posters, vending stickers and shelf wobblers at point-of-sale will encourage people to select the healthy option.

Read more about the Healthy Food and Drink Framework

Recognising people and successes in 2018

Innovation and excellence recognised at the 2018 NSW Health Awards

2018 NSW Health Awards artwork

The 20th Annual NSW Health Awards were held in Sydney in November, with winners announced across 11 award categories.

The Awards recognise innovation and excellence in the delivery of health programs and services to the NSW community throughout the public health system.

A volunteer who has worked tirelessly for 20 years to improve services and facilities for people with mental illness in South West Sydney, and a project to deliver healthy outcomes in Aboriginal communities were among the winners.

Read more about the 2018 NSW Health Awards

Nurses and midwives honoured at the NSW Health Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards

NSW Health Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Award recipients

Nurses and midwives are at every point of care of the patients' journey through the health system. A record 52,000 nurses and midwives work in the NSW public health system, with more than 2400 nursing and midwifery graduates recruited in 2018.

The NSW Health Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards, now in its sixth year, celebrate and acknowledge the great work of nurses and midwives across NSW.

Congratulations to the 35 finalists and 12 winners of this year's Awards who were formally acknowledged by the NSW Health Minister in September at Parliament House.

Read more about the Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards

Public awareness campaign launched in the lead up to the festive season

'Aggression is never ok' social media campaign artwork

NSW Health has developed a public awareness campaign leading up to the festive season to promote the safety of hospital clinicians and paramedics.

The social media campaign which runs until 26 January 2019, highlights that violence and aggression against NSW Health hospital staff and paramedics is never OK.

The campaign is running on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and asks members of the public to show their support for frontline workers by sharing posts with their social media networks. #NSWHealth

NSW Health Statewide Biobank celebrates first anniversary

Laboratory worker holding test tubes

The NSW Health Statewide Biobank celebrated its first anniversary on Tuesday 13 November. This facility is the largest storage bank for human bio-specimens in the southern hemisphere and has the potential to improve the lives of future generations to come.

With capacity for over three million human samples including DNA, tissue, blood and tumour cells, the Biobank is revolutionising medical research in Australia and is helping researchers change the way life-threatening illnesses are treated.

Since the Biobank was launched, more than 8000 samples have been safely stored to help the discovery of new treatments, inherited conditions and emerging diseases. Another 550,000 retrospectively collected samples are also stored at the facility.

More info about the BioBank

Mothers and Babies Report now available

Mother holding baby

A decline in smoking in pregnancy and more women accessing first trimester antenatal appointments are among the positive health outcomes in the 2017 Mothers and Babies Report, released in November 2018.

Information was collected from 94,449 women who gave birth to 95,825 babies across 108 NSW public and private hospitals in 2017, which found a number of improvements in health trends.

NSW Health delivers multiple programs to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies, including $9.5 million for smoking cessation via the Quit For New Life program and $7 million for the Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Service annually.

Read more about the 2017 Mothers and Babies report

Celebrating 10 years of free eye tests for kids

Children playing with coloured blocks

NSW Health's Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening (StEPS) program has celebrated 10 years of offering free universal eyesight screenings to preschoolers in NSW.

NSW was the first state or territory in Australia to implement universal screening for four-year-old children at all preschools and childcare centres. The StEPS program aims to diagnose problems early and prevent permanent vision loss and eye disease.

Almost 700,000 preschoolers in NSW have benefited from free eyesight screenings thanks to the $4 million annual statewide program.

Read more about the StEPS program

Safe and secure: review of NSW hospitals

Two hospital workers

The safety of staff, patients and visitors in NSW public hospitals will be scrutinised in a new security review announced by the NSW Government in November 2018.

The review will be headed by a former Health and Police Minister, Peter Anderson.

Nearly three million patients go through NSW Health emergency departments every year and NSW hospitals provide some of the best health care in the world. A small number of those patients, along with a similarly small number of authorised and unauthorised visitors, present a danger to staff and other patients.

The review will appraise the 12 point plan on hospital security put in place in 2016. It will also consider any additional statewide strategies to improve security.

Read more about hospital security

Public Health Regulation strengthened to reduce the risk of Legionnaires' disease

Cooling tower

With the onset of warmer weather, NSW Health is urging building owners and occupiers who have cooling towers to comply with new safeguards to prevent the spread of Legionnaires' disease.

NSW Health has strengthened the Public Health Regulation to reduce the community's risk of Legionnaires' disease. Building owners are now required to conduct monthly tests on cooling towers and notify high levels of Legionella and other bacteria to local councils.

The amendments to the Public Health Regulation came earlier this year after extensive consultation with local government, industry, independent experts and peak industry associations.

Read more about the Public Health Regulation changes
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