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    ron batagol

    The reflection of “work-in-progress” and aspirational aims in public and community health for 2011 by Carol Bennett are laudable. Unfortunately, though, programme delivery is hardly the strong suit of this Federal Government- and that’s not a partisan political statement because the Opposition certainly isn’t flush by any means with alternative options in most of the public & community health areas!!! & btw I have a feeling that NBN rollout is heading the same way – hope I’m wrong!!!. ( and it seems it is unpatriotic to ask questions about it anyway!!). Watching Minister Combet on ABC breakfast this morning, at least he is admitting the difficulty and impacticality of a Federal Govt. trying to run programmes rather than just devise and implement policy settings- insulation, Green Loans etc. examples mentioned in passing!!! Most of us with a professional interest in public health & community are keen as Carol Bennett to see a lot of these initiatives succeed, but, juding by their implementation record to date, are sceptical of this Govt. being able to efficiently oversee successful rollout of many of thee initiatives.

    With specific refernce to eHealth, I note that Professor Enrico Coiera, Director of the Centre for Health Informatics at the University of NSW, makes the scathing attack in the MJA (online 29 Nov), stating , as reported, that “the negative response to the UK’s summary care record (SCR) should make Australia “pause and think again” before rolling out a similar system.”
    Also “The government’s PCEHR systems are due to be rolled out by July 2012 but the national record system in England has only been used in 4% of GP consultations in England and has generated additional workload for doctors!”

    He says that “little research has been done in Australia to show whether the SCR is beneficial and there is no clarity around its purpose, how it will impact on clinical care and how it will be used.”

    I also worry that patients may be able to “cherry pick” which medical or treatment items are included in their e summary. For instance, if metronidazole was used to treat a sexually transmitted disease, a patient may wish to exclude this from their summary. But this drug potentiates the anticoagulant effect of warfarin, so if they were on warfarin and were beiong managed for an acute bleeding episode, it is certainly very relevant to know of the metronidazole treatment!!! That is just as one example, and there would be a myriad of others!

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    As long as people use the hospital and ambulance systems as substitute to their own suburban GPs, the over all health system can only continue to go backwards.
    The Fed Gov can reform anything they like, but, as found in the UK, no public health system can be both free and available to all, while at the same time giving comprehensive, timely medical attention.
    I have private health cover (have reduced all other expenditure to maintain cover) and know from experience, if I need hospitalisation for any reason, I will be admitted within a very short time, or have been sent to hospital in an emergency, I can be transfered to the private hospital section of a public hospital.


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