Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class wpdb in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 52

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/cache.php on line 36

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Object_Cache in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/cache.php on line 389

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 537

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 537

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 537

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 537

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 556

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 653

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 653

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 653

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 653

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/classes.php on line 678

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/query.php on line 21

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/theme.php on line 508
John Howard is killing my wife… « MikeFitz with overflow bit set…

John Howard is killing my wife…

Sun 7 Oct 2007

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

… and with the mess he has made of the health system, he’s probably killing some of your relatives too.

Mrs Fitz (I should call her Dr Fitz) is a GP, a very dedicated GP.  She does home visits for her elderly and infirm patients; she does palliative care when they are dying; she has practiced in the same area for nearly 30 years and is now treating the grandchildren of the people who were her first patients; she is invited to weddings where she can say “I’ve known the bride since she was … a positive pregnancy test.”

Dr Fitz is over-worked.

Every consultation begins with the patient asking “Do you know how long I’ve waited for this appointment?”  And the answer is always “Two weeks,”  That’s right; Dr Fitz is booked two … weeks … ahead.  Needless to say, she doesn’t see too many simple coughs and colds.  Problems are always complex and walk-in emergencies always mean that the working day never ends on time.  A decade of this takes its toll.

And why is this?

Two decades ago, Dr Fitz’s practice was one of the largest in Queensland with 9 full-time doctors.  Since then, some doctors have retired, some have moved away to follow a spouse’s job, others have moved interstate to care for elderly parents.  There are now the equivalent of 4 and a half full-time doctors treating the same number (or even more) of patient families.

Unfortunately there are no doctors available to replace those who retire.  No doctors anywhere.  This is an Australia-wide problem.

This is why our hospitals are staffed by overseas-trained doctors with poor English*.  This is why Queensland Health had no choice but to employ Dr Jayant Patel (aka Dr Death) at Bundaberg Hospital.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this is also why, two months ago, a female GP in the next suburb to ours developed a sudden heart problem and passed away on the operating table.

John Howard caused the doctor shortage

In the first term of his current government, former treasurer and economic “Dry”, John Howard gave Michael Wooldridge his job as Health Minister on the condition that there was no blow-out in health care costs.  There wasn’t much they could do about the demand side (people do get sick, you know) so, being clever little economists, they decided to cut back on the supply side.  The number of training places at Australian Medical Schools was halved.

The impact of this short-sighted decision became acute a few years ago.  In response, the number of training places was increased but unfortunately this was done with the introduction of full-fee-paying places.  I’ve learned from medical school staff that the majority of these are now occupied by rich foreign students.  Very few local students have been able to take on the debt.

Because of the lead time to train more GPs, it will take another decade before we can crawl out of this mess.  In the meantime, we will pay with our health for this mean, penny-pinching Howard decision.  Some of us will pay for it with our lives.

———————
* Dr Fitz knows some of the doctors at the nearby Gold Coast hospital who worked with Dr Mohamed Haneef.  Losing him was a double tragedy.  Not only was he a competent doctor, but he was one of the very few public hospital doctors with good English.

19 Responses to “John Howard is killing my wife…”

  1. Donald Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Our GP of 40 years decided to retire recently. He was younger than me and I told him it was not fair but he still did it. He has been replaced by a South African woman doctor, part of a large commercial practice which has bought the building and all the records.
    Our GP always worked from 7am until 7pm 5 days a week and Saturday mornings. The new GP works a half day only on week days.
    That’s a lot less available hours for consultations.
    One visit so far and all seems OK but the failure to train enough doctors is criminal neglect.

  2. steph Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Wow, never really looked at it from a doctors perspective. The health system is all manner of fucked up and I only hope that once Howard is gone, his legacy doesn’t remain and things can get back on track.

    Fingers crossed.

  3. Wilecoyote Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Ok… I may be a tad out of touch, but when I last looked our health care was the responsibility for the state… the problem is that a shortage of doctors is a result of a shortage of graduating students who can fill that role… as our state population grows, the patient per doctor presumably grows, and this is specifically true if you live in a growth area…

    The doctor who passed away was in fact our family GP, and it was something of a shock as Mrs Coyote rang to confirm her appointment to find that had transpired… It did give us cause to question the strain under which people we care about work… We really liked her.

    Fact is mate, the shortage we face is shortsightedness of the state government in providing training positions, and making them attractive enough that our best are not lured away to more attractive positions. We have some of the best facilities in the world for training… we just dont have enough of them. We certainly would have enough bright candidates if the positions were available.

    Nah it is not a Howard problem… It just needs some focus, and a profile outside of politics. The real problem starts at education. This also is a state responsibility.

    Long hours and high pressure are things that we are familiar with. These things require management, along with personal health, excercise, blood pressure, etc etc… oh yes and somewhere in there you are supposed to have a relationship with your family.

    Doctors can be recruited overseas, but the comparative rates of pay say for a european doctor to an australian one, mean that it is unlikely to get one to move out here. It means that we tend to be more successful recruiting in developing nations. Yes they dont speak english, and yes they present as less than professional sometimes. But they aren’t dumb, and they can be trained in english and presentation. Unfortunately, because of the strain on numbers, they are trained on the job.

    This is perceived as a poorer quality of service, and sometimes it is. The fact is that health care in Queensland is underresourced to crisis point, and straining our doctors to the point of poor health because they ARE dedicated is not a viable solution.

    THIS PROBLEM IS A STATE ONE… start with improving education and standards, then make more training facilities available, then look at placement.

  4. MikeFitz Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Donald, thanks for your comment. Yep, privately-owned general practices are becoming a thing of the past; the corporates had a major buying spree a few years back.

    Hi Steph, Yep things always look different from the other side of the desk. I’m sure not going to be handing out how-to-votes with a big “L” on them.

    Wile, the buck stops at the top. This goes to heart of another of my hobby horses - we should do away with the States.

    The Commonwealth pays for medicare (GP visits), States pay for hospitals, (casualty visits) Over the years each tier of government has squeezed the availability of their services in order to shift costs to the other tier. Meanwhile, our taxes are wasted with duplication and we get the poorest possible service.

    Same problem with education… The Commonwealth once funded universities while the States paid for TAFE colleges. Universities now have to fund themselves more and more and full-fee-paying places are the only choice they have. Fewer and fewer Aussie kids can afford the cost of a medical degree.

    It’s not a State problem; it’s Australia-wide. And why should Australians in one State be treated differently to Australians in another State?

    Transport, Health, Education - these should all be Commonwealth responsibilities and uniform across Australia.

  5. wilecoyote Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Point taken Mike…

    If we are talking about what should happen… we would be describing Eutopia till the cows come home… and I was ignorant of the funding sources…

    I am educated by State Government until my adult life, there I paid my own way.

    “And why should Australians in one State be treated differently to Australians in another State?”

    I know theres nothing democratic or fair about it… but ask a Tasmanian or NT resident that and you will get a pointed answer… How you are treated is not only about where you live, its also about how much money / political clout you have.

    Lots of people agree that State Government is a white elephant… they only exist because they existed first, and were politically more powerful at federation, or my suspicion is they would have dissolved then, in favour of a centralised system.

    The root of the problem is the same… education… better education = improved lifestyle = healthier people…

    People have been encouraged to quit smoking, so in stead of dying younger of smoking related disease, they are living unhealthily longer… the damage already done. All sorts of campaigns run to encourage us to live healthier lives, most federally funded…

    I reckon you need to be 2 peas short of a pod to smoke… and I hate walking out of a building or along a sidewalk, and running the gauntlet of smokers standing about outside puffing away. I never have smoked, and never will. Its kind of a pet peeve of mine. I worked for Rothmans for 5 years when I was younger. They pay pretty good, but they way they let me go is something that still doesnt sit well with me. While I was there, most of the senior people in that office did not smoke.

    Most of our kids are educated in state schools… and High schools… there are only a few spots open to them to compete for… so the smart ones re deploy to other areas where they know they can compete… doctors are lost simply because the resource is not there to train them.

    Funding is channeled into whatever will get a government elected… we apparently needed to spend billions of dollars on tunnels under the city, but we cant educate doctors… we needed a foot bridge over the river, but we cant get a security monitoring system on our bikeways… we really needed to redevelop Suncorp stadium, but school busses dont need upgrading… where do you draw lines?

    The smart money is not always the easiest to come by. I dont see the Mount Isa community spending a couple of billion on a cross city tunnel. They could probably put one in pretty cheap up there…

    Nah… pass the buck so you dont have to spend it is an old game, but the primary responsibility is still that of the state government.

    Cheers.

  6. ashleigh Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Mike

    Dead right.

    wiley - Wooldridge sorted “the problem” by refusing to issue medicare provider numbers. NOTHING the states can do about that, because without a provider number, a GP cannot issue invoices and bill clients, and get medicare rebates. Sorry - for GP’s you cannot blame state governments AT ALL. Hospitals can be a different argument for another day, but not GP’s.

    The actions of Howard and Co on both the education and health care fronts are examples of extreme short-sightness which will take another 10 to 20 years to overcome.

    History will judge them very poorly.

    In the meantime, we suffer.

    I really sincerely hope that the coming election finally sees the flushing of Howard-the-unflushable-turd.

    Not because I think the opposition will be a heck of a lot better, but because the stench of corruption, and power-drugged incompetence is so strong with the current lot that they need to go, for the health of the country and politics in general. Time for change.

  7. Stuart Fenech Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    :-(

    GP’s are university educated. Universities are not like schools - they are a federal responsibility. The places for medical practitioners is a federal matter. Wooldridge decreased the numbers of positions. We now pay the price.

    There are state responsibilities. Bed shortages - state. Bullying - state. Ambulances - state. However, if there are not the staff because the Federal Government has not trained them, that is not state.

    And yes, dare I say, abolish the states :)

  8. wilecoyote Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    I visited our GP today… things there are still sombre they miss her…

    I mentioned this blog post to them, they are pleased our forum is championing the cause, but are sceptical that it will yield a short term result… ie attract a GP to handle the patient load… I tend to agree…

    This business of funding has me intrigued… at the QUT site… I found a link to their handbook… their handbook… and got this quote…

    “Today, with a budget of $500 million pa, the university enrols 40,000 students ” - That is the whole university…


    now the Uni Qld… The University of Queensland will receive more than 60 percent of the Federal Government funds for medical research
    announced for Queensland’s universities, hospitals and research institutions today (October 16).

    it goes on… Federal Minister for Health and Ageing Tony Abbott announced 850 grants worth $529 million in NHMRC funding.

    This is a pittance when you think its less than half the amount of money they are putting into the Brisbane tunnel. (It has been routed as route 1 to bring it into federal funding schemes…)

    UQ are building buildings with some of it, which is wonderful if that translates to more seats…

    I guess the problem is shortsightedness is contagious…. and there are many places to pass the buck.

    Cheers.

  9. ashleigh Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Hey Wiley

    Building buildings was going on when I was at university. It annoyed the heck out of me - extensions to the library, another Taj Mahal here and there. I would have much preferred that the money go into teaching positions, or student services.

    It turns out that much of the money going to universities is in the form of tied grants (you have to dig really deep to find this out), so if the grant is for building works that is what they have to use it for, come what may.

    The system is designed by lunatics.

  10. Donald Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    The thought of having only local councils as the buffer between us and Canberra terrifies me. The quality of Councils and Councillors in SA is abysmal. You may be luckier in Queensland but I doubt it.
    I have always believed that those who make decisions should be very close to the outcomes and to those who are affected by the quality of those decisions.
    Shifting further responsibility to Canberra is a recipe for disaster.
    Flawed as State Governments may be, they are a long way better than having no State Governments.

  11. MikeFitz Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Hi Donald, Yep, it has to be handled carefully, I agree.

    In Qld at the moment, we are going through a process of amalgamation of local councils. I think stronger regional councils will be the perfect vehicle for local service delivery

  12. Donald Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    We have already been through the process of Council amalgamations several years ago. It was not made compulsory so that the bigger Councils [one of which is where I live] just refused to amalgamate.
    Sad to say amalgamations has not made the slightest difference to the quality of Councillors or their decisions.
    Sorry, but it’s got to be State Governments as far as I am concerned.
    Meanwhile, bring on the Federal Elections; we are waiting here with our baseball bats for Johnny to come over the horizon and I am awfully sick of the phony elections.

  13. Miss Smack Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    I honestly believe they need to concentrate on university prices and accessibility. Many Australian kids cannot afford it, which means the overseas students take up those places, because they can afford the high rates, and their parents pay for it. This is great, but less english speaking people are getting qualifications.

    This is across the board in most qualifications.

    Its too expensive to get a qualification these days. Not all kids leaving school have the support of mum and dad, or the financial aid.

    John Howard - can’t wait until he’s gone.

  14. wilecoyote Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    Ashleigh thanks for the reply… and again grant money usually does have strings… the point was that the university is saying more teaching positions is not possible as there are not the resources (not money so much as facilities) to accomodate them… Building will always go on as campus expands…. If you follow that link… you will eventually get to a spreadsheet on the NHMRC site which details every cent they have awarded since 1998… it makes interesting analysis stuff… (I downloaded it) They aren’t the only body with such information… bottom line… more facilities = more seats…. or so we are lead to believe…

    Donald, it was interesting that the amalgamated councils was a State initiative… it also came with an offer of training and support…. I agree that dealing with Canberra is a skill, but you have to wonder what will happen to all of those state government johnnies??? Do you feel a bidding war for the best of them or will they be absorbed elsewhere? Its an interesting question.

  15. Mangoman Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    It is always a good idea to follow the golden rule when looking at who is doing what in Commonwealth/State/local government relations, that is, ‘the one who has the gold makes the rules’.

    It doesn’t make much difference which level of government has formal responsibility, the one that can provide the mega bucks is the one that gets to decide. States/Territories will kick and squeal and generally try to make out that they can be the decision makers but, in their hearts, they know the truth.

    The local government amalgamations across the country over the last 15 years or so has been brought on by the Feds. Running councils to provide services is not easy. The Fed Local Government grants program provides support that eases the burden on rate payers. That support has tightened over time forcing States/Territories, in turn, to force changes to make councils more efficient and effective but, perhaps, less accessible and representative.

    Supply of doctors and health infrastructure generally? Same, same. Health is very costly. NT health funding has almost doubled in 6 years but the system still struggles.

    Saving money so that you can bribe the populace to vote for you seems to me a poor priority - but maybe it’s a matter of perspective.

  16. Aurelius Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    One reason I like reading blogs is to see the world through eyes I wouldn’t normally see though. This is a perfect example of that.
    On another tack, the voters support the government because they appreciate “good economic management”. If only they could see what the cost of “good economic management” truly is.

  17. Phil Johnson Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    As the former CEO of a Division of General Practice for more than 7 years (and now a Senate candidate with the Climate Change Coalition) I have my fair share plenty of stories and anecdotes about health care and general practice in Australia.

    Primary health care in Australia is the priority segment of the Australian health care system - and is the most ignored. Public hospitals, whilst having suffered from a significant decline in funding over the past decade at least, had the opportunity to practice early discharge of patients, thereby clearing beds (greater hospital efficiency) and offsetting some of the loss of funding.

    General practice, with its ageing workforce, has become the new “outpatients” department as well as the core provider of chronic disease management for the entire community. The cost of this has been the loss of acute care access for the community.

    And nothing has really changed. The GPs continue to work their hearts out - and some of them die too young and suddenly in the process.

    One of the reasons that I had decided to stand for the Senate with the Climate Change Coalition is that the candidates agree that Australia needs long term vision, leadership and planning - on climate change (obvious for the CCC) as well as water, health care, education, infrastructure and the economy.

    Australia continues to suffer from the same short term-ism and from a lack of vision that has held it back for many years.

    The health of our nation needs a shot in the arm!

  18. LNP Profits from Ebola? « MikeFitz with overflow bit set… Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    […] Liberal Minister who drastically cut medical school intakes to Australians. We consequently had a drastic doctor shortage, necessitating importing countless thousands of overseas […]

  19. LNP Profits from Ebola? « MikeFitz with overflow bit set… Says:

    Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/bri58020/public_html/mike/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 74

    […] Liberal Minister who drastically cut medical school intakes to Australians. We consequently had a drastic doctor shortage, necessitating importing countless thousands of overseas […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

Comment moderation is in use. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly.
"SEO"-type comments will be reported to Akismet as Spam.