So this past week has seen me unable to focus on the sporting events I normally would and rather have to attend to matters happening in real life. I was originally planning on writing a pre or perhaps post Melbourne Cup article, but was unable to do the necessary planning and research to have enough of an opinion to share it with you.
In fact I was lucky that I was able to see the race at all.
As some of you who personally know me may know, my girlfriend broke her ankle last week. That alone is awful, but the way the health system has given her the run-around since is what leads me to writing this piece.
Let me preface this by saying that I know that Australia has one of the best public health systems on the planet. The USA are currently destroying their own government over an argument about implementing a health system we already have and no one here would ever want to give up. My father receives a treatment every three weeks that is completely covered by Medicare, but is worth $20,000 every single time. So I am eternally grateful that we live in a country that provides these services.
The problem is, there are still massive problems in our public health system, as I’m sure everyone knows. I’m not talking about problems related to who is in government, as funding is only one part of a much bigger issue.
Our public system, for all its advantages and benefits, is still wildly inefficient. In the specific case of my girlfriend this week, she was forced to attend an appointment in Sydney (she lives on the Central Coast) two days after her initial diagnosis, which turned out to be useless and was basically told to go have the same appointment another day at Gosford hospital. Then once scheduled for surgery on Tuesday, she had to fast from midnight and show up at 7am. At around 3:30pm she was told her surgery wasn’t going to happen that day and to do it all again tomorrow. So, we go back today and basically the same thing happens, although today they waited until 5pm to tell her.
They also had told her that even if she wasn’t going to get in today, they at least wanted her to stay overnight. However, when 5pm rolled around and they told her she was out, they also told her she had to leave and come back tomorrow yet again.
The nurses who have been dealing with her have been lovely. I am not writing to blame any particular person or even the hospital itself, because the issue that causes this inefficiency is systemic.
The hospital lacks communication between departments and downwards towards the patients because the way it currently stands, it doesn’t make a lick of difference to the actual process on the hospital’s end for patients to be dealt with in a better manner. It is in their interests to have everyone who needs surgery to just be there all day, every day, without food or drink until they are called in on a minute’s notice.
The public system is free and therefore patients are treated like they are being done a favour, so if they are massive inconvenienced, who cares right? But just because we do have a free system, doesn’t mean it has to be run in that manner, when there are numerous ways they could run the process that is more efficient, without costing any more.
Whilst the public system is doing you a favour more so than the private sector, it’s not like it is really free. The “free” healthcare system is paid for by taxes and one imagines those taxes are being paid by the people using the system.
But government owned businesses are always going to run in an inefficient manner. People worry that privatisation leads to cost cutting and therefore services getting worse. But time and time again it goes the other way. Private businesses deal in competition and service quality along with process efficiency go a long way to making a business more successful.
The public hospital system still follows the archaic processes and nature of government services and whilst simply getting those services at all is something to be celebrated; a lot can be done to improve the nature of those services.
The private system will always provide better services than the public system, as they will never privatise the public hospital system and the private system should be better than public, given that you are paying to receive those premium services.
But it is time that hospital administration in the public system is cleaned up as it is simply unnecessary for people to be putting up with what they are, when they aren’t just rocking up off the street.
Tomorrow we go back for day three of waiting and fasting. Hopefully this time it ends in surgery and my girlfriend doesn’t have to continue to put up with what is a fixable problem, both in her leg and in her public hospital.