When you think of healthcare in Australia, the assumption is that it’s going to meet the patients’ needs whenever they require services. After all, Australia is a developed country; you’d assume that healthcare is top-notch. However, there are some deficits that put areas of Australia’s healthcare on par with third-world countries. We’ll outline a few examples below and we will have a focus on NSW regional areas.
The Doctor Shortage in NSW Regional Areas Delays Patient Care
Hospitals in NSW regional areas are facing a shortage of health practitioners. The health practitioners such as emergency medical services (EMS) staff that regional hospitals employ, face shifts up to 20 hours to try and cover for the doctor shortage.
These shifts can lead to fatigue. The doctors or medical professionals find themselves missing signs and symptoms of more severe health conditions. In turn, patients can suffer from misdiagnoses that can lead to death.
This scenario played out in 2015 when a patient named Colin Birch died after he underwent a procedure to repair a hernia. The patient’s wife claims the hospital failed to notice the symptoms of faecal peritonitis after Mr Birch had surgery. The hospital also lost records of blood tests that could have highlighted indicators for infection.
Some hospitals have no doctors on-call up to five days a week. This causes delays in care that can last for days. This is similar to healthcare in third-world countries. In some developing areas, people travel for days to get to clinics or health centres because there are no ambulance services.
When patients make it to the hospital, they have to take a number, get in line and wait. Then, they get another number and wait longer. Or, patients begin lining up six hours before the hospital opens to see a doctor. But only the first few manage to get an appointment.
Just like having EMS staff take on long shifts in Australia’s regional hospitals, village midwives work long shifts, taking on the bulk of medical care ranging from general checkups to births.
Are you interested in learning more about how the health care system looks throughout the rest of Australia? You can find more information here.