Another reduction of medical services in a government hospital system

In both Britain and Australia, "caring" Leftist governments have a mania for closing down hospitals and shrinking the number of beds available. The pretext is that they want to combine several hospitals into one to provide bigger, better and brighter services. It is utter crap, of course. It is about cost-cutting and nothing else. Standards decline rather than rise. We see the latest iteration of this "compassionate" Leftist policy in Queensland, where the government wants to replace two childrens' hospitals with one new one. Result? Everyone is going to be shortchanged. Even the size of consulting rooms has been reduced to the point where they are too small to fit a wheelchair in. And this is a hospital?

One of Queensland's leading doctors sent a disturbing email to nearly 100 colleagues that was leaked to me last week. Dr Brent Masters, a specialist in respiratory medicine at the Royal Children's Hospital asked if anyone was happy with the planned move to the new Queensland Children's Hospital. The planning process was "truly getting out of hand", he wrote. "I recommend you all read the book On Bullshit: you can buy it at the Medical School bookshop for about $15," he said. "It points out that basing decisions on bullshit are (sic) fraught with dire consequences - indeed worse than basing decisions on lies . . .

"The complete lack of intellectual honesty has let pediatrics down badly in this state . . . "I again point out that this hospital should not be about secondary level pediatrics (the bullshit factor) but about tertiary pediatrics: You can not have a world class hospital based on secondary-level pediatrics." Then he gave an ominous warning about underfunded hospitals. "You can cross the road 100 times with your eyes closed and you will get away with it 90 times," he said.

Despite some positive announcements on the new hospital this week, Dr Masters, like many other specialists, remains sceptical. He has to be. He leads a team treating 350 young cystic fibrosis patients. "People come from all over the world to train with them," said a doctor. They are that good." He is backed up by Dr Ann Chang, a leading researcher and devout Catholic who is a world authority on respiratory disease. This week Chang is in Darwin and soon she heads to New York and Miami to present papers to international medical forums.

For Dr Masters it is a demanding clinical load. CF is an unforgiving genetic disease characterised by frequent lung infections. It is incurable. Even lung transplants have only a 50 per cent success rate. Masters and Chang fear the new hospital simply doesn't have enough space to treat existing cases, let alone the 125 new cases who will come onstream in the next five years. And hospital planners neither seem to understand nor care about necessary research. This is a common complaint among specialists, from pathology to neurology.

Gastroenterologists fear they have been sidelined by planners who "stole" some of their space for respiratory medicine. "Gastroenterology is seriously compromised at QCH, with the complete disintegration of our diagnostic unit," said Dr Looi Ee last week.

Doctors practising nuclear medicine and medical imaging fear they, too, have been short-changed, with not enough MRI scanners.

Professor Jenny Batch told colleagues she needed rooms for diabetics and growth hormone therapy and a permanent patient-family education centre. "I share the concerns that there will not be adequate rooms," she said in another email leaked to me.

Space shortages also worried Dr Jane Peake, a pediatric immunologist who deals in allergies, eczema and auto-immune deficiencies. She feared there would not even be enough space to store research papers. She thought she was looking at a "poorly designed rabbit warren" with "small and grossly inadequate consulting rooms".

Dr Kate Sinclair agrees. She says proposed, open-plan office space will be unsuitable. Privacy will be endangered and deeply personal conversations with patients will be difficult.

Several doctors also questioned plans to cut queues at the new hospital by running clinical sessions in a day starting at 7am and finishing at 8pm.

Dr Lynne McKinlay, the director of pediatric rehabilitation at the Royal, noted the apparent lack of large consulting rooms. She said rooms would be "unsuitable" for children who arrived with both parents, siblings and a stroller, "let alone children who come with wheelchairs and walkers".

The proposed research centre remains unfunded and clinicians in allied health, genetics and dentistry believe their patients, too, will suffer in the shift to South Brisbane.


Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

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