The Federal budget seemed to forget that as doctors we see daily the challenges to access adequate timely high quality health care for many of our patients.
No mention was made of ways to address the 8% of hospital admissions which could be prevented with better GP and community care (largely funded by the Federal Government). Forgotten also was the inadequate access to proper care in nursing homes because of lack of staff and access to GPs, leading to unnecessary admissions to under-resourced public hospitals. No mention was made of the years on elective surgery waiting lists for relatively simple procedures which might return a low paid worker to productive work but for the inadequate Federal funding of both primary community care and public hospitals.
Dental care wasn’t even mentioned despite the fact that dental procedures in public hospitals are the second most common reason for preventable hospital admission. All such patients need is adequate community dental care. It doesn’t happen. Waiting list for dental care extend to years and it doesn’t rate a mention. The Government has nothing to offer regarding the promotion of teeth rotting food and beverage. What will the Government do for our toothless patients?
The Government is to be commended for listing new expensive drugs for life threatening medical conditions but that’s been happening for years. It’s commitment to a specific suicide prevention strategy is great but isolated.
The boast is that there are less people on welfare. Welfare recipients struggle with health issues. We already have the most highly targeted welfare scheme in the OECD. It punishes deserving people and adds to their poor health. We see patients struggling with welfare issues far too often, with poor co-ordination with support services. Unemployable patients are given an unemployment benefit 40% below the poverty line. Whilst it’s great that people are encouraged to work if they can, many of our patients struggle. Robo-debt strategies make them sicker. The budget indicates further savings via supposedly even more efficient systems and if past performance is an indicator, even harsher treatment of welfare recipients.
It is disappointing that those with significant health care needs seem to be largely ignored or even further punished in this budget. Tax cuts can’t replace improved services.
Dr Tim Woodruff,
President, Doctors Reform Society.