Back of the que treatment for Western Suburbs patients

It was one of those chilling conversations that you just can’t forget.

She was in her mid-forties. Her skin was sallow, her speech was slow, her eyes were dull.

“I’ve got cancer… all over my body. I’ve got this new Aboriginal treatment… it’s herbal and it helps control the pain well. I don’t want all the morphine the nurses keep giving me… I want to make my own choices.

A friend walked up and put her arm around the woman.

“Isn’t she fantastic? The doctors only gave her a year to live and that was two years ago. She’s a real fighter.”

I asked where the cancer was.

“In my stomach when they found it, but now it’s in my bones, everywhere. But hey, that’s OK. I take these herbal pills and lots of vitamins."

“What happened?” I asked. I already know what the answer would be.

This was a working class woman from the western suburbs.

“My doctor said… you need to be admitted. I needed to have this procedure. An he got me in real quick to the hospital. But it turned out they were busy, and couldn’t do the test until the next day. The next thing, the nurse came over to me and said… we need to discharge you. You can’t stay overnight. We need the bed.

I told her, my doctor says I need to be here. I live over an hour away, an I’m too sick to get the bus. But the nurse says…  sorry, I’ve got orders to follow. An she walked me right out of the hospital and put me into a taxi. The taxi cost me a lot of money. An I had to turn around and get back to the same hospital the next morning.

"Nobody thinks about stuff like that, do they?”

No, they don’t.

The uninsured can get pushed out of public hospitals, while the wealthy may be admitted to private hospitals just for 'monitoring'

Hospital bureaucrats don’t think about it.

Bureaucrats working in the air conditioned offices of Australia’s plethora of health departments don’t think about it.

And the mainstream media certainly don’t write about it.

Health is an industry that has been routinely documented as wasting billions of dollars every year. Over servicing, fraud and unnecessary tests are said to account for 30% to 40% of the USA health budget. Australian health advisors routinely write about the same problems. But their reports all fall on deaf ears.

While low-income people can end up being frog-marched out of public hospitals because they are seen as a financial ‘burden’, expensive treatments with questionable outcomes are being promoted to elderly patients with private insurance.

This is the real face of Australia’s fragmented, uncoordinated and increasingly ‘profit driven’ health system. Social injustice at the worst time of someone’s life.

The result is bad health treatment all round.

And distressed people can end up caught up in a bad system that is mostly unaccountable.

© Wikihospitals 2015