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Attention doctorportal newsletter subscribers,

After December 2018, we will be moving elements from the doctorportal newsletter to MJA InSight newsletter and rebranding it to Insight+. If you’d like to continue to receive a newsletter covering the latest on research and perspectives in the medical industry, please subscribe to the Insight+ newsletter here.

As of January 2019, we will no longer be sending out the doctorportal email newsletter. The final issue of this newsletter will be distributed on 13 December 2018. Articles from this issue will be available to view online until 31 December 2018.

Members’ Forum

People who turned 60 years earlier this month are among the first included in the expanded bowel cancer screening program under a $16 million Federal Government initiative, but a two-year delay in its extension to 70-year-olds doesn’t make sense for at least one reader.

The age-specific incidence of colorectal cancer increases with age. Does the exclusion from screening of elderly subjects over age 70 represent discrimination on the basis of age? The cost to the community certainly does not decrease for those in their eighth decade.
By Russell Fitch

The Senate has taken the rare step of urging an anti-vaccination group to disband, condemning its “harmful and unscientific” scare campaign that is helping undermine national immunisation rates, to the delight of at least one reader.

I would invite all AVN (Australian Vaccination Network) members to take a short but informative walk through Rookwood cemetery if they doubt the value of vaccination.
by Rod Bernard (not verified) 

The Government has announced it will introduce a $2000 a year cap on tax deductions for work-related self-education expenses. The idea has drawn a sharp response from many readers, and some suggestions as to how it could be far better targeted.

I am a joint trainee with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA). My RCPA annual fees are $1078.
The examination fees for my part one exam are $2170. This year I have bought text books, attended multiple courses and conferences and done one university summer school subject. $2000 doesn’t even come close to my educational costs for a year. I am a full-time working single mother with children aged two and five years old. I am already in debt. This $2000 cap will impose a crushing financial burden on me.
by Lucy Ding (not verified)

While I think that the $2000 cap is insufficient to cover a lot of CPD courses required for continuing registration, I think that there are ways to reduce abuse of this education tax deduction. The Government could do this by limiting the amount that could be spent on hotels and flights by establishing a reasonable price for flights and accommodation e.g. 4 star/business hotel and economy class flight to wherever the conference or professional development course is held. If doctors need to travel first class or stay in five star hotels – they can pay for the upgrade. Either nothing will change because no one is abusing this tax deduction, or the people who were abusing it will stop.
by Junior doctor (not verified)

I recently approached several financial institutions to obtain a loan for work-related self-educated expenses while on fellowship. Unfortunately, these institutions can no longer support such loans for professional development expenses. The reason they gave was “recent changes to the National Consumer Credit Protection legislation”.
This has potentially catastrophic long-term implications for our health care system.
Fellowships are not a pre-requisite of clinical practice. Most Fellowships, especially those in Canada and the UK, are poorly paid or even unpaid. Not all trainees have the financial freedom to go for 12 to 24 months unpaid or losing money. If trainees cannot guarantee a large personal loan to support themselves and their family while abroad, they will skip this additional training. This is a fact.
The $2000 cap on work-related self-educated expenses is a gross underestimate of the actual cost of training, let alone the “optional” additional self-education expenses that are incurred through Fellowships.
Unfortunately, my wife and I are currently re-assessing our plans to undertake two Fellowships (one in Cambridge, UK; and one in Vancouver, Canada). Our visitations while abroad will also be cut back. This will undoubtedly have a long-term negative effect on our medical community and, ultimately, on our quality of health care. I request that the Government reconsider the $2000 cap to medical work-related self-educated expenses.
by James McLean (not verified)