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Election Campaign - Health funding

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

As a mother of 2.5 children, a law student, and a participator in the
Australian Economy, the main area's I look for as far as policy goes in an election campaign are:

  • Health and Aged Care
  • Education
  • Economy
  • Environment

As I contemplated what sort of election coverage to do on my blog, I immediately ruled out Environment and the Economy, because they are such highly specialised areas, I don't have the understanding to rationalise policy, and there are plenty of other people who are, and are doing the hard work for me.

I read ABC News online, and was struck today by a story which hubby thinks, shows someone is bugging our bedroom.

Before I go any further I will disclaim my political leanings: I am a swinging voter, but swing more towards Nationals/Liberals at a federal level, and Labor at a state level. When given the opportunity, I invariably end up voting Democrat. Does that help at all? LOL. In other words, where possible I vote Democrat, with preferences to Libs/Nats at federal elections, and Labor at state elections. What it also means is that I can and do vote labor at a federal level, and libs/nats at a state level, but they need to work harder to earn my vote.

The article that piqued my interest today is this one. Not two weeks ago, Hubby and I had a vigorous debate (read: argument) about the cause of the problem in the health system. We are in Queensland, which has suffered some high profile failures in the system over the last few years (Jayant Patel, Mohamed Haneef, Mohammed Asif Ali ) mostly relating to overseas trained doctors. We are also in a regional area of Queensland. Apparently not quite rural, despite the difficulties with attracting doctors.

When we first moved to town 4.5 years ago, there were two doctors surgeries. One was made up entirely of overseas trained doctors. The other, was roughly half and half. In the last 4.5 years, one other surgery has opened, made entirely of overseas trained doctors. But it is not fully staffed. Our hospital in the next nearest town has 3 doctors: one head doctor, and two junior doctors there for rotations. Some junior doctors are also overseas trained.

But it appears we've reached our "limit" of overseas trained doctors. Which begs the question: if they're the same standard as Australian trained doctors, which we all hope they are, since we're placing our families health in their hands, why is there a limit at all? The obvious answer is our inherant belief that Australian trained doctors meet stricter standards than those trained overseas.

Don't let that fool you, Hubby sees a Iranian doctor, my kids and I for routine jabs and illnesses see an American. But the trouble is there aren't enough doctors to meet the demand of this booming shire. And judging by what we hear, it's a common state of affairs. What's also telling is I can get in to see any overseas trained doctor the same day, but to see an Australian trained doctor I usually have to wait 3-4 days. There is obviously at the very least, a perceived difference in standards.

So while Hubby and I argued the cause of the problems affecting our health system (him: states and federal government blaming each other, me: lack of training places for doctors) we also solved the problem: The federal government needs to suck it up and fund the health system properly, and stop blaming the states for ballsing it up, the states need to reform health and try to eliminate beaurocracy, and the federal government needs to fund more places at tertiary institutions to get more doctors graduating.

It appears that the federal government heard us, and decided to run with our policy:

Under the four-year plan Prime Minister John Howard says the number of
university medical graduates will more than double to 3,000 by 2012.

Well that'll certainly help.

He has committed more than $100 million so that by 2011 there will be 900 GP
training places each year.

That'll help too. What the flow on effects will be is anyone's guess: small towns like mine having adequate access to GP's, a fall in waiting times for surgeries, specialist appointments and who knows what else. Of course, this is 4 and 5 years away. What is also needed is a short term solution and reform.

And the waiting game begins for Labor's counter offer. Although they have already pledged $600 million to cut waiting lists, part of a larger $2.5 billion plan to reform health and hospitals. Despite large promises and proposed outcomes, the policies are light on details, and don't seem to address the fundamental failure, rather they are throwing more money at a system on the verge of collapse, and taking responsibility's away from the Labor governed states that have failed to adequately meet the challenge, while ignoring the impact they can have constitutionally through funding educational places to increase the number of professionals.

Maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way, feel free to leave your views on the issue if you think I'm not looking at it the right way.


  1. River said...

    I don't understand politics. Never have, never will.

    October 31, 2007 at 3:48 PM  

  2. River said...

    Chicken Burger recipe left in Monday Meal Planner comments. These burgers can be dry if overcooked so you'll need to experiment to get them right.

    October 31, 2007 at 3:50 PM  

  3. Precious_1 said...

    Thats food for thought Kin. Thanks. I have to admit to having a chuckle when you said you have to wait 3/4 days to get in to see an aussie trained doctor......... we have to wait 4 to 6 weeks! I'm quite happy to see whoever is available. The only problem is that not that they are overseas trained, but that they are usually young and haven't always quite learned to listen properly to the concerns of mothers. That said, when it comes to female issues or weight issues I only see my regular GP who knows me and my history - because I am seeing him about longer term problems it doesn't matter that I have to make appointments weeks in advance.

    Something desperatly needs to be done thats for sure.

    October 31, 2007 at 8:14 PM  

  4. Kez said...

    Like precious_1, we also have a 4-6 week wait to see a dr - our area has a ratio of 1 dr for 2000+ people - and we're not a rural area either. It's a disgrace.

    November 1, 2007 at 6:24 AM  

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