Sunday, December 18, 2005


Townsville [a small regional city in Queensland] is set to revolutionise health services in country Australia after a $3 million federal grant was awarded to James Cook University yesterday. Health Minister Tony Abbott travelled to Townsville to announce a new rural medical school at JCU. The Federal Government will inject $3 million over two years to establish the landmark clinic at the university. He said the rural clinic would allow more students to study in Cairns, Atherton and Mackay, getting hands on experience in rural and remote communities. "The Government's initiative will give more future doctors an experience of rural and remote medicine, plus the skills to deliver the best possible health care when they get there.

Mr Abbott said training doctors in the country was important, because country trained doctors were more likely to practice in regional areas. Mr Abbott said the Government was trying to increase rural training at universities across the country and he listed JCU as a leader in the initiative. "It's particularly important at universities like James Cook, as the first non-metropolitan medical school in Australia." The minister's visit was scheduled to coincide with JCU's first medical class graduation ceremony. "It's actually a pretty important day for country Australia as this is the first graduating class from a non metropolitan medical school," he said.

Mr Abbott said Australia's health services were going through a period of positive change, with non-state capital city medical schools being established in Canberra, Woolongong, west Sydney and Fremantle. "There are a lot of changes happening but James Cook has been a flagship of change when it comes to trying to get medical graduates in country areas." Mr Abbott said there were 11 rural clinical schools across Australia, and as a result, a quarter of the nation's medical students were spending at least a year training in remote areas.

The executive dean of the JCU faculty of medicine, health and molecular sciences, Professor Ian Wronski, welcomed the additional funding. "We have always wanted to train doctors in the North, for the North, and the rural clinical school will give us more facilities and more teachers in communities across the region."

More here

Australian health boss pisses into the wind: "Greed should not be the motivator of the nation's doctors, and highly paid specialists such as anaesthetists should not get more money from Medicare unless they guarantee to pass the savings on to patients. Health Minister Tony Abbott has revealed he understands why doctors walk out of the "chaotic" public health system in disgust, but has warned that an exodus could undermine public confidence in the profession. Pledging extra payments to GPs who undertake procedures, he warned the Government would not give more money to anaesthetists because they were likely to pocket the cash, not pass on the savings to patients. "Notwithstanding legitimate grievances about the scheduled fee and indexation, the Government is very reluctant to increase rebates for comparatively high-earning specialities such as anaesthesia, in the absence of binding undertakings from the profession that the money will go to patients," he said".


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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