Sunday, September 30, 2012

NSW government: killing patients with cuts

Those who know me - either in real life or on the Internet - will probably know that my wife has a chronic illness that keeps us intimately familiar with the inside of hospitals.

Describing things in full would take an essay, but the short version is that she suffers from an immune system disorder that has knock-on effects pretty much everywhere: at the last count, she's a regular with six specialists (immunology, gastro-enterology, vascular, renal, gynocology, dermatology).

It is, therefore, a little distressing to read in the Sydney Morning Herald that the austerity fanatics in the NSW want to add hospital outpatient clinics to the list of things they want to cut.

This is one of those moments where the story isn't in "the story", it's in the sidebar to this story, and the sidebar is only in print, not online. Here's what it says:

Some outpatient clinics to be cut, forcing patients to see specialist doctors in private rooms at a cost of about $300 a visit. - Sydney Morning Herald, News Review, Page 3, September 29-30, 2012

A point about the story itself: if the Herald thinks a private specialist visit only costs $300, it's completely deluded; first, because the private specialist doesn't have to constrain charges to the officially scheduled price; second, because those visits often include pathology. Shifting the path from the hospital to the private clinic means that service is also private.

I guess we'll manage somehow. We'll have to. But how many people are going to die because they can't afford the gap between their insurance and the specialist?

The shift is, however, in line with Liberal party philosophy: replacing the public system with the private is an ideological idee fixee for the party. If that kills people, so be it.

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