What has happened to our health system lately?

Being able to see your local doctor within a few days has generally always been possible, kind of like a right, until recently. But something has changed. We are now seeing doctors ‘closing their books’ on new patients and in some cases it is taking three or four weeks to book in with your doctor. Three or four weeks! Surely if people are waiting this long to see a doctor their condition is worsening.


We are also hearing of people travelling hours back to where they used to live just to see a doctor or medical professional. Put this into context: ‘people are moving here but have to drive hours back to where they came from for medical matters’. How bad is that?


How do these things happen in Australia in 2021? It can only be a supply and demand issue due to mismanagement.


Too many patients and not enough doctors? Where have the doctors gone or is it more a case of, where have the people come from? Are there enough new doctors coming through? Should we be using more nurses? Do we simply open up our medicine courses to allow for more graduates? Is the medical centre business model not the way to go? Does the whole health system need a revamp? Do we make the final year of a medical degree out in the field in our medical centres?


For the first time I recall bulk-billing is hard to come by. I never used to pay to see the doctor, but now I do. Why and how did that happen? I make less money than I used to and now I am paying about $50 to see the doctor, after a rebate. This is on top of medicine and of course, private health cover that I am paying about $30 per week for.


Don’t even start to blame COVID. It can’t be COVID related because people with cold and flu symptoms are being told to get COVID tested before seeing their doctor.


Is it as simple as population growth? Are doctors leaving our area and not being replaced? Are we not producing enough doctors? Are the conditions not attractive enough?


But the situation gets worse as you dig deeper. Hospital wait times have also blown out. Stories of waiting in ambulances at the Caboolture Hospital or waiting for ambulances to arrive are now common place. At the Caboolture hospital, 34% of patients wait in an ambulance for longer than 30 minutes before receiving any treatment. One in three people who go to the Caboolture Hospital in an ambulance wait in the ambulance for more than 30 minutes. So after a 30 minute trip from Bribie Island to Caboolture, one in three people have to wait for another 30 minutes or more. Add to this the time waiting for ambulance and we have a major problem. A problem that is not acceptable anymore.


And I don’t recommend visiting the Caboolture Emergency Room on a Friday or Saturday night unless an extreme emergency. It seems like the whole health system is struggling. I want to be clear I’m not pointing the finger at our doctors, nurses or other hospital and medical staff. It is obviously ‘the system’.


So, where do we look for accountability and responsibility on this issue? This is where the political blame game will start. The good old political blame game between levels of Government. Federal Government is responsible for local health services and State Government is responsible for hospitals.


The positive is that we have two new hospitals on the way. A private owned hospital that has not been heavily publicised and of course the election promise that came late in the campaign, probably thanks to the polls being close. Why else was it announced so close to the election? Why announce a hospital as part of an election? This just shows what politics is about. Winning elections.


Due to the private hospital approval not being well publicised, the electorate were sold on the $25m satellite hospital election promise from the Labor Government. Even though it ended in a landslide at the time of the announcement there was a feeling that it would be closely fought on the local front.


Unfortunately, these hospitals are not going to appear quickly. We have not heard anything from the Government about land being secured and only presume that it still hasn’t, 6 months after the election. Maybe it will be finished next year. Maybe.


We also have had a Federal Government announcement in recent times regarding local after-hours primary care. This was announced in September last year and was expected to roll out in January of this year. A $500,000 investment from the Federal Government.


However, January turns into February and here we are in April so hopefully we can get an update from our Federal Member of Longman, Terry Young on this matter. Or should it be our State Member, Ali King who recently met with the provider of this service, Brisbane North PHN . We are not sure of the outcome of this meeting. I invite Terry Young MP and Ali King MP to do a Podcast Show or an interview with me at the same time to clarify so many unanswered questions about our health system.


In all seriousness we are talking about people’s lives and livelihoods so it would be nice to see both our federal and state member working together as a team on these vital community issues to deliver outcomes. Real outcomes that provide solutions to problems that normal people face. This is real life talk, not political jargon. This is about people that are living week to week and can’t afford private hospitals.


I haven’t seen any Government provide Short-term measures in the health section while waiting for reports. This is a huge LOCAL issue. I encourage our LOCAL MP’s to please talk to each other, engage with the community and come up with a solution – this week. These decisions can happen quickly in private enterprise so why not in this space?


This newspaper has received many phone calls in relation to our health system which prompted us to write about it.


I would like to see a community forum attended by our elected leaders, the State Government Minister for Health, by our local doctors, by hospital representatives and maybe the Premier is due back for another visit, her first visit was to announce a Public Satellite Hospital weeks before the election.


Would love to hear more about your experiences with our Health system.


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