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Bureaucratic sway versus doctors' say



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P A R L I A M E N T O F A U S T R A L I A

H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S

COMMONWEALTH- "- !

P E T E R S H A C K . M .P .

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P.O. B O X 1 2 0 6 , B O O R A G O O N . W .A . 6 1 5 4 SUITE 8, G A T E W A Y M E L V I L L E C IT Y CEN TRE BOORAGOON TEL. (09).364 5554

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e c emb e r , 19 88 95/88.

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

BUREAUCRATIC SWAY VERSUS DOCTORS' SAY

How we deal with the demands for resources to help combat diseases such as AIDS is not just a matter of dollars and cents, according to the Shadow Minister for Health, Peter Shack.

Addressing the inaugural meeting of the Australian Summer School of Medicine, Science and Humanities on "Current Topics in Medical Ethics", being held in Brisbane this weekend Mr Shack called for sensitive handling of the many medical, moral, legal and ethical issues surrounding patient care, not

only for AIDS, but for all other conditions as well.

"Overcoming the sometimes negative influence of the bureaucracy on the delivery of health services is an essential part of this process.

"What has to be recognised is that imposing bureaucratic solutions on problems in the field of medicine can mean that the patients' interests run a poor second to those of the government and its bureaucracy.

"The addition to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme "Authority Only" list of a large number of some of the most effective drugs available for treating heart disease is a classic case in point.

"Short term economic considerations, the need for cost containment, took precedence over the wider issue of the possible cost of surgery, or long term hospitalisation, for people who may, as a result, not be supplied with the best possible medication.

"The same is true in relation to the new pathology services schedule which is acting as a deterrent to people having appropriate tests to ensure that their medical condition is being managed in the best possible way.

"What we are faced with is a situation in which rises in overall health costs are forcing changes and reductions in certain areas, like pharmacy and pathology, while at the same time the demand for new treatments and new services is rapidly growing.

"Deciding just how our available health resources should be allocated is something which cannot be left to the bureaucracy alone.

"Health care providers and the community as a whole must be involved in the process because w e .are dealing with human lives not just a treasury balance sheet."

Contact: Delys Newman (09) 291 6021