Half of hospital doctors work ‘unsafe hours’

Doctors are falling asleep at their computers and having to give up toilet breaks in order to manage shifts that can be as long as 76 hours.

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A new audit has found that more than half of doctors in Australia’s public hospitals are working unsafe hours, placing them at high risk of fatigue.

Intensive care physicians and surgeons are the most stretched, according to the Australian Medical Association report published on Saturday.

One doctor reported working an unbroken 76-hour shift, alongside others who endured shifts of between 53 and 72 hours.

“What we’re seeing here is that the system is under stress,” AMA vice president Tony Bartone told reporters in Canberra.

“These doctors are routinely missing lunch breaks, missing meal breaks, having to withhold toilet stops. They’re working consecutive shifts, often back to back.”

Dr Bartone said doctors were routinely telling him they were tired and would sometimes fall asleep at their terminal while doing paperwork.

“This is not an environment that you want to have a vulnerable population, your patient, being exposed to in a routine manner.”

The longest working week reported during the audit was 118 hours – the same as 2006 – while the average week came in at 78 hours.

Only 11 per cent had two full days free of work in that period, and just under half worked three or more days without a meal break.

“What it shows is that you have a system that is under stress and it only takes a small, little thing to result in a massive error that might result in harm,” John Zorbas, chair of the AMA Council of Doctors in Training, said.

The AMA is calling on state and territory governments to boost efforts to ensure better rostering and safer work practices.

The 2016 audit is the fourth nationwide survey of doctors’ working hours by the AMA since 2001.

A total of 716 salaried doctors and doctors-in-training were asked to keep an online diary of their work hours, on-call hours and sleep time over one week last November.

Dangerfield shines as Hawks fall short

Patrick Dangerfield has upstaged Luke Hodge in his 300th AFL game to steer Geelong to a nailbiting three-point win over arch-rivals Hawthorn.

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Isaac Smith, who missed a shot after the siren in last year’s qualifying final against the Cats, missed once more with just five seconds left as Geelong held on for 13.10 (88) to 12.13 (85) win.

The margin was never more than three goals in another see-sawing edition of the storied Hawks-Cats rivalry.

Dangerfield’s five-goal heroics looked to have the Cats home, before late majors to Ryan Schoenmakers and Hodge set the platform for a late Hawthorn steal.

Hodge’s long bomb reduced the margin to four points with just 18 seconds remaining.

Tom Mitchell’s clearance and 42nd possession of another stunning performance made its way to Smith via Jack Gunston, only for the winger to send his running shot to the right.

Cats coach Chris Scott, who saw his side beat the Hawks by 86 points earlier in the season, paid tribute to both sides.

“Professional sport is such a beast that you’re driven to move on very quickly after good performances but I think it’s appropriate to stop and reflect a little bit on how fortunate we are to be a part of it,” he said.

“And for the fans to continually witness these contests … it’s a credit to both clubs that there can be a period of transition and the contest can still be so fierce.”

The 70,345-strong crowd also saw an out-of-the-box performance from Dangerfield.

The Brownlow Medallist’s day appeared over in the first term when he was laid out in a fair bump from Jarryd Roughead and immediately put his hand in the air for a trainer.

He was rushed down the race but emerged shortly after with a severe limp.

In his absence, Hawthorn kicked five of the next six goals to get control of the contest.

While clearly hampered, Dangerfield returned and was sent forward by Scott, snapping the Hawks’ run with a fine snap and goal from the pocket.

He finished with 5.6 including three third-term goals that gave Geelong their strongest buffer.

No Hawk defender could lay a glove on Dangerfield, with Hodge even sent to man-mark the former Crow at one point without success.

Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson said Smith shouldn’t feel the weight of the world on his shoulders, with “hundreds of moments” prior to his fateful kick to win it.

“I’m a bit flat because we lost a game of footy I thought we could have won,” he said.

“It shouldn’t come down to the last seconds of the game. If we had played better in the earlier parts of the game we should have had a margin.”

The Cats jumped temporarily to the top of the AFL ladder with the win, while Hawthorn stays 13th and are set to miss the finals for the first time since 2009.

Port hammer North Melbourne by 70 in AFL

Triumphant coach Ken Hinkley has praised Port Adelaide’s ruthless streak in their 70-point clobbering of AFL strugglers North Melbourne.

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The Power consolidated their spot in the top four, winning 19.13 (127) to 8.9 (57) in a Saturday afternoon mismatch at Adelaide Oval.

Port dismantled North with a stunning eight-goal opening quarter which laid the platform for their 10th win of the season.

The result was effectively decided in a dozen minutes, when the Power kicked four unanswered goals and North lost a player to injury – defender Mitchell Hibberd didn’t return after hurting a shoulder.

“We were home, and we were pretty experienced against a side that lacked a little bit of experience,” Hinkley said.

“But we certainly made our intent known right at the start of the game.

“And when you do that, you get to play the game more on your terms than the opposition.”

Port’s mercurial Chad Wingard was a key factor in the opening-term onslaught, kicking three goals for the term with fellow small forward Sam Gray slotting two of his four majors in the quarter.

“Today was always going to be a challenge for us against Port Adelaide in form, with their best available team out there on their home ground – there’s no doubt about that,” North coach Brad Scott said.

“We came out with an attitude that we would just have an almighty crack and … we were badly beaten around the ball early.”

Port’s Wingard was outstanding with 30 disposals while ruckman Paddy Ryder dominated Todd Goldstein – the Power tall recorded 37 hit-outs in an influential display.

Ryder’s command enabled Port midfielders Ollie Wines (31 touches), Brad Ebert (30 disposals) and Sam Powell-Pepper (two goals, 26 possessions) to run rampant, while swingman Justin Westhoff was prominent with 27 disposals.

The second-last Roos had six players with less than 10 games’ experience and were at least able to restore some parity in the second quarter when both teams kicked three goals.

But the visitors were outscored eight goals to three in a tame last half, despite the best efforts of seasoned onballers Ben Cunnington, who collected a game-high 33 disposals, and Shaun Higgins (26 touches, one goal).

North forward Ben Brown booted three goals from limited opportunities and Shaun Atley scored two.

Five-goal forward Dangerfield stuns AFL

Is there anything Patrick Dangerfield can’t do?

Not on the evidence of the Brownlow Medallist’s five-star performance against Hawthorn.

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Geelong fans at the MCG on Saturday – and Dangerfield himself – had their hearts in their mouth when the star on-baller fell to the ground in the first term on the receiving end of a savage, but fair, Jarryd Roughead bump.

He struck his hand in the air for assistance and was escorted to the Geelong rooms.

It wasn’t clear if he would emerge. When he did, he put himself in the forward line.

Playing on one leg, Dangerfield dominated.

A second-quarter snap ended a Hawthorn run of goals. Then came a third term for the ages.

Three goals, all from strong leading marks, gave Geelong a lead they wouldn’t give up.

He would finish with five goals and six behinds, telling 3AW after the match he was proud of the performance.

“My game was a bit of a reflection of the service I got from our midfield. To be able to lead to some of those kicks was nice,” he said.

“It was just a bit frustrating I couldn’t kick a bit straighter.”

Coach Chris Scott said he left the decision on playing Dangerfield up to his medical staff and the 27-year-old.

“He was inhibited but he wanted to see if he could keep going. He felt the best position on the ground was up forward. When you’ve got an asset like that you tend not to argue,” he said.

“For a long period of the game it seems like he was the most important player on the ground.”

The Cats face fellow front-runner and Dangerfield’s old club Adelaide next-up on Friday night in a genuine blockbuster.

Dangerfield couldn’t guarantee he’d be a starter given the lower leg injury.

“It’s going to depend how it pulls up. It’s going to be pretty sore for the next few days,” he said.

“I’ll get into the city of churches, say a few hymns and hopefully it’s right to go on Friday.”

Australians’ love affair with Japan on the rise

The lure of the cherry blossom drew a record number of visits by Australians to Japan in May, according to information released on Friday by the ABS.

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But if tensions rise further on the Korean Peninsula, tourism to the region is likely to sink given the importance of personal security when Australians decide where to travel, according to one tourism expert.

More than 1000 trips each day took Australians to the land of the rising sun in May, capping an extraordinary boom in tourism since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Monthly trips from Australia dropped to below 10,000 for six months in the wake of the catastrophe, but have grown to more than 30,000 in recent years.

Dr David Beirman, senior lecturer in tourism at the University of Technology, Sydney, said the result reflected a long-term strategy from Japanese tourism officials to appeal to more price-conscious travellers.

“Their rail pass for example has been a huge success and they’ve also been trying to tell people that Japan isn’t always about high price, five star accommodation,” he said.

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“They’ve really tried to encourage people to see more of Japan and the results have been pretty successful.”

Last year Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set an ambitious target to double the number of overseas tourists by 2020.

Japan overtook Singapore in May – the height of the country’s famous cherry blossom season – to become Australians’ seventh most popular destination.

New Zealand, Indonesia (mostly Bali) and the United States are clear leaders with almost double the monthly trips of other destinations.

But Japan could threaten the UK as Australia’s fourth most popular destination in coming years.

Dr Beirman said growth in tourism to Japan was likely to continue thanks to ongoing marketing, cheap flights, and the appeal of Japanese food, culture and hospitality.

The major risk he suggested came from potential conflict developing on the Korean peninsula.

“The perception of safety and security is actually the number one motivation for people to travel – or not to travel.”

North Korea has fired test missiles into the sea to the north of Japan this year and the two capitals Pyongyang and Tokyo are separated by less than the distance between Melbourne and Brisbane.

The information released by the ABS also shows strong growth in inbound tourism, which rose almost eight per cent in the previous year.

Large increases in visitors from the US, Canada, Indonesia, Germany and India over the previous 12 months were recorded.

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