Why should we give Dr Death the keys to our hospitals? [2007]

by Nicholas Stanton:

To answer this question I suggest we start by looking at the state of Queensland's hospitals during the Bjelke-Peterson years, when they were run by local boards.

I don't think there are many who would disagree with the assertion that the hospitals in Queensland were amongst the best in the nation. In the cities, and in regional areas, Queenslanders had access to prompt emergency care, there were few, if any of the horrific waiting lists we hear all about today, and there was adequate numbers of nurses, GPs and specialists.

What went wrong? This vision of a health system that works, hospitals which don't leave patients waiting for hours in the ambulance outside before they see a doctor, young children who have access to the required specialists who are able to diagnose and fix their problem, rather than leaving them to die an agonising death, seems far away.

But it was less than twenty years ago. With state revenue far and away above what it was in those days, especially after the introduction of the GST and the state's failure to uphold their agreement to remove stamp-duties, one would have thought health care, a vital issue by anyone's reckoning, would have got its fair share.

Along comes Goss. During the Goss reign of the Goss government, and his senior civil servant, one Mr Kevin Rudd, health saw vast cost cutting measures, as labor thought it was a better idea for it to be run by bureaucrats to the dollar, rather than experts.

The local boards, with members ranging from representatives of the different levels of government, doctors, and local people, was seen to be an inefficient waste by Rudd and his team, and so they were cut.

This also meant that for such things as calculating the number of required beds, hospitals are now assigned on the basis of Queensland demographics.


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