Sunday, January 22, 2006


Australia's public hospitals show the way

Surgeons are being prevented from performing operations on poor people in public hospitals because of budget constraints, the Royal Australian College of Surgeons said yesterday. The college made the claim when rejecting Productivity Commission proposals which would overhaul medical training and pass some doctor roles to nurses and other health workers. The commission said the health system was inefficient and needed to be restructured to ease shortages in the medical workforce.

The Australian Physiotherapy Association yesterday backed the commission's report. But Royal Australian College of Surgeons president Russell Stitz said the recommendations would do nothing to deliver extra health workers. "The report does not address the real problems of inadequate funding, duplication, excessive bureaucracy and poor utilisation of current resources," Dr Stitz said. "Insufficient funding means too few operations can be performed and too few training places are available to train enough surgeons of the future. "Surgeons currently working within the public system are prevented from operating on needy patients just to balance budgets."

Dr Stitz said the health system was archaic and impractical. He also said that it would be indefensible to continue to operate under the "current chaos". "Tasks cannot be simply reassigned to other professional groups," Dr Stitz said. "There are insufficient numbers of workers throughout the health system."

More here


They're better busybodies than they are drug regulators

The bakery business wants U.S. regulators to stop picking on cherry pies. Cherry pies are the only frozen fruit pies that must meet quality standards set by the Food and Drug Administration. Other fruit pies -- including apples, blueberries and peaches -- are exempt. The FDA created the rule more than 30 years ago. At least 25% of the pie by weight must contain cherries, and no more than 15% of the cherries can be blemished. No one recalls why cherries were singled out. "We likely issued the one standard because we were petitioned to," FDA spokesman Michael Herndon says.

Bakers aren't worried: frozen cherry pie sales reached $22.9 million last year, up 5.7% from 2004, says Information Resources Inc. Bakers say they pack their pies with more cherries than required. Sara Lee Corp. says the fruit makes up between 29% and 43% of its cherry pies. Still, the American Bakers Association is asking the FDA to drop the requirement, but they don't expect a quick answer. An identical plea in 1997 "just fizzled," says Lee Sanders of the bakers association. The FDA says it receives thousands of petitions a year, and it sets no deadline to respond to queries.



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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