Sunday, July 29, 2007

Putting a toe out into the world again.

This has certainly been a nasty little bug. I'm only just beginning to feel human again although I am still wheezing and coughing intermittently - and I am one of the lucky ones. A lot of sufferers (Virgo is one) have developed chest infections. She's still grey and wheezing with asthma but has avoided the pleurisy and pneumonia so many others have come down with.
A lot of doctors are booked out for anything up to a week because of the volume of cases. When Virgo obviously needed antibiotics we first tried our GP, then half a dozen others before we could get her an appointment and that wasn't until the next day. If we hadn't managed that, our only other option would have been the Emergency Department but the winter ailments have made them desperately over-crowded.

The short-sightedness of our politicians, and the squabbling over funding between State and Federal governments, has left the whole system struggling. Okay, if what you have is life-threatening, you will get quick and efficient treatment. It may be on a trolley in the Emergency Department or you may be stuck in an ambulance for hours but you will be treated. In the meantime other patients will be waiting for hours, all unwell, many in pain and often having to deal with bored children who have had to come with them because no-one was available to take care of them.

When we had occasion to visit an Emergency Department about eighteen months ago Virgo and I sat in the waiting room for over six hours watching as ambulance after ambulance pulled in. It didn't impact on us because they had taken Pisces in quickly and we knew he was receiving treatment. We were fortunate. Others in the waiting room before us had been there for eight or more hours and some of them were in considerable pain.

Many could probably have been dealt with by a GP but that is not an option on a Sunday. It's a big enough problem during the week because (at least in part) we are suffering the consequences of the decision of the previous Paul Keating Federal Labor government which decided that Australia was oversupplied with doctors and cut the number of places - not that the present Liberal government has improved things in this area.

All this highlights the need for another major hospital in our city and the State Government is going to build one. Isn't that great? Well yes, if they weren't planning on building it in the suburbs the south of the city and then closing down the central teaching hospital, Royal Perth. This will leave the central city area with no hospital services.

If there's a gas explosion, the equivalent of the recent steam pipe explosion in New York, for example, where will all the injured go? Will they be able to be carried to the central hospital if ambulances can't access the area? No. They will have to be carried out to ambulances and transported for a considerable distance to outlying hospitals. Will the walking injured be able to get themselves to hospitals? No again. They will have to make their way to ambulances which will have to ferry them again to the outlying hospitals, tying up all available ambulances and causing delays in treatment that may well end up costing lives.

Perth is growing and we certainly need a new hospital south of the city but not if we lose our central city hospital.

Rant ended.

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