Dr Do-Little

Andrea Vance writes:

“I’m a Covid Healthcare Hero.”

Like the lapel pin, the insult was sharp. This tiny badge was about the final straw for a GP in a busy, urban practice.

“What am I supposed to do with those?” she asked of the parcel, sent from a local Primary Health Organisation. “Pay my nurses?”

She sent them back.

Lapel pins. Whose genius idea was that.

The strain on the system has knock-on effects. People who should have seen a doctor are spilling into already-crowded emergency departments (ED). Wait times have blown out. Patients are stuck in the ED, waiting for beds to be freed up on wards.Tragically, a 51-year-old woman died of a brain bleed after leaving Middlemore ED because of long waits.

Shorter ED waiting times save lives.

The health system is in meltdown. Call it a crisis, or don’t. It is collapsing around us.

Healthcare staff are at the end of their rope – undervalued and underpaid for years, the wave of is a cry for help. Most are distressed because they know people will die because they can’t access treatment.

As the system buckles, there is incredulity that Health Minister Andrew Little is pushing ahead with a bureaucratic overhaul. Doctors are being asked to work – unpaid – on groups advising the ministry on how to bed in the new regime. No-one seems to know how it will work – the changes are yet another burden that the workforce cannot absorb.

Instead of prioritising a flow of overseas healthcare workers, or returning normal care to reasonable timeframes, his Ministry is pre-occupied with an administrative rejig.

It does seem the worst possible time to undertake what will be the largest restructuring of the health system in recent memory.

They have a nickname for the Health Minister: Dr Do-Little.

Quite fitting for a Minister who laments he doesn’t know why the $1.9 billion in mental health funding didn’t lead to any improved outcomes.

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