Bad Medicine

The following article from the Spectator Australia

Australians are amongst the longest-lived people in the world. This is in no small measure a product of our natural resources and pristine environment, which are favourable to a healthy disposition.

We also enjoy the privilege of having a robust system of education – another asset to be counted in our good fortune. Without doubt we can also include our wonderful health system in making a substantial contribution to supporting our long and healthy lives.

Every measure of human success records health and education as being major determinants of outcome. The Australian Healthcare system should rightly be regarded with pride as being one of the best and most efficient systems in the world. Australians enjoy a life expectancy that is five years longer than the Americans and few other nationalities are longer lived.

In fact, American life expectancy has been in decline in recent years, whilst in the UK the National Health System is perennially on life-support and on the very brink of collapse.

Whilst the cost of healthcare in Australia is substantially less than in both the USA and the UK, outcomes are almost universally superior. Owing to the combination of our natural environment, geographical remoteness and lack of land borders, and the fortuitous circumstance of the virus making landfall in our summer in early 2020 – in the recent Covid Pandemic, the cumulative mortality rate was almost six times higher in the USA and the UK by comparison to Australia according to Our World in Data.

Public surveys of trust in our health professionals regularly demonstrate that nurses and doctors are the most trusted professions in our society. Yet today, our healthcare system and the individuals dedicated to its delivery are facing one of the greatest challenge in its history which threatens its survival. 

On October 11 (today), the Queensland government is set to pass an amendment to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act that will mandate doctors and nurses to follow government regulations and directions even when they believe the patient’s interests might be best served otherwise. Once legislated in Queensland, the other states and territories are likely to follow suit.

Complaints about a medical practitioner in Queensland are handled in the first instance by the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO). The OHO is directly responsible to the Queensland Health Minister. The OHO has no medical oversight, outsourcing its documentation to the appropriate agency as it sees fit. For example, the OHO may seek guidance on the performance of a particular practitioner from AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority), which has access to medical expertise. AHPRA then will feed back to the OHO on its findings.


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