Big health corporates seem to be doing well at the expense of grassroots general practice. This raises concerns about the delivery of patient care in our communities – including keeping people out of hospital.
Last month shares in Primary and Sonic jumped around five per cent after the government promised a number of carrots, including a potential rent reduction for their pathology collection centres within GP surgeries.
Last week the government struck a deal with the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association. The Sydney Morning Herald: “The Turnbull government forged a deal with the sector late on Friday, promising to delay the cuts for non-concession holders till next January if elected, and to evaluate commercial pressures on the sector.”
Today The Australian reported: “There are groups that are doing well from the status quo, notably the health insurers and pharmaceutical companies. Last year, Medibank Private increased its operating profit by 32.5 per cent. Not bad during a period it lost policyholders.”
“There has been a percentage decrease in spending on hospitals and general practice medical attendances in recent years. At the same time, private health care premiums continue to beat inflation.”
The Australian Newspaper: “The big winners, however, are the pharmaceutical companies. The government funds $10 billion a year (up from $7bn in today’s money a decade ago) and on top of that, consumers stump up a whopping $10bn in over-the-counter preparations. Saving even a fraction of this increment would make an enormous difference to hospitals, general practice and outpatient care.”
Meanwhile, GPs and patients are still faced with the freeze on Medicare rebates. As RACGP president Dr Frank Jones has pointed out on many occasions, this situation has placed GPs and their practices in an invidious situation whereby all patients will have to financially contribute to their consultation and practices will have to curtail some quality patient services to survive financially.
It seems to me there is something seriously wrong with the priorities in our healthcare system.