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Health: unions rule don't you know « Previous | |Next »
July 28, 2005

One of the key problems in the Australian health system is the way doctors protect their turf through their union--the AMA. The AMA acts to make sure that doctors are the only gatekeepers to the public health system.

This restriction on trade is crucial because the health system is beginning to shift from a focus on treatment of acute disease to prevention of sickness.

The AMA blocks increased competition from nurses, allied health professionals, and pharmicists in the name of cutting corners, and second rate medicine, and finite budgets.

The problem is that through the AMA criticizes others for being anti- competitive--the pharmacists for trying to block the entry of the Woolworths in to their sector--they lobby against any extension of Medicare to other health workers. The AMA hides its standover union tactics of holding governments to ransom behind the aura of being concerned with better health care.

The pressure is building in the health care system with poor medical care, increasing costs of public health budgets, workforce shortages and closed training shops designed to limit supply.

The cracks will appear in the rural regions where the shortage of doctors means bad health outcomes. There are suggestions of an appraoch that would train a new type of rural health worker who could diagnose and prescribe certain drugs thereby circumventing doctors' traditional monopoly on prescription rights. The new rural health worker would be a doctor-nurse hybrid. This roll back of GP monopoly would require would involve a new training course.

Another way to tackle the GP gatekeeper approach to health care is to devise alternative pathways to preventive health care than the GP drugs approach. That approach can be developed by allied health professionals.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:10 PM | | Comments (0)