Government using ‘deadly tactics’ to cut health costs
Government using ‘deadly tactics’ to cut health costs

‘Deadly tactics’ behind Qld’s ‘bargain basement’ care

DOCTORS have blasted Queensland's "bargain basement" health care system which they say is run by a government that is using potentially deadly tactics to cut costs and fudge waiting lists.

In an extraordinary attack on the State Government's "political point scoring", the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ) has called on doctors to unite and take a stand against what it believes is inferior patient care.

The AMAQ's new chief Dr Chris Perry said he plans to take action to stamp out Queensland Health's practice of referring patients who need specialist care from qualified doctors to other health practitioners, as wait times are shorter and it is cheaper.

"We have public patients with referrals to specialists being diverted instead to other health practitioners as a means of cost-cutting and creating an impression that people are waiting less time in the public system for care," Dr Perry said.

"Queenslanders are being sold this new style of patient care under the guise of choice and convenience, but it's simply a bargain basement version of health care."

He said the practice allowed other health practitioners to perform the work of qualified doctors, like patients being referred to audiologists rather than Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists, with potentially deadly consequences.


New AMAQ President Dr Chris Perry. (Picture, John Gass)
New AMAQ President Dr Chris Perry. (Picture, John Gass)


"Role substitution can lead to serious injury and even death. Children with ear issues are having audiograms by audiologists who have no diagnostic training," he said.

"If there is no hearing loss on the day of the test, these children are not seen by a doctor so recurrent ear infections, slow language and other problems go checked. This could lead to permanent hearing loss in a child."

But Queensland Health denies the allegations, with a spokesperson saying doctors "should be supporting the healthcare team and harnessing all the skills to benefit patients, not undermining them".

"Patients are only referred to fully qualified and accredited health practitioners - to suggest otherwise is at best misleading, and at worst, potentially self-serving," a statement read.

"It takes a team to deliver great care and keep patients safe. Queenslanders benefit most when healthcare professionals in our $19 billion system work together."

The unusual outcry from medics is reminiscent of the attack on the Newman government over the pay dispute debacle.

The AMAQ is asking doctors to complete a survey about the state of the current health care system and what's required for the future.

It is concerned about pharmacists handing out medications instead of GPs, physiotherapists and podiatrists substituting for orthopaedic specialists, midwives delivering babies rather than obstetricians and nurse endoscopists being used instead of gastroenterologists.


Originally published as 'Deadly tactics' behind Qld's 'bargain basement' care