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    Obesity Policy Coalition

    This is a great idea and important to document the breadth of these relationships as well as to get this information out in the public domain. I think that it is timely to start a discussion of the issues raised by these partnerships.

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    Greenpeace runs a website,, which allows the tracing of funding links between Exxon and those who speak against climate change. I wonder if they’d let you borrow their back-end system to record links between corporations and public health professionals?

  3. 3

    Paul Bendat

    The gambling industry and state governments dependent upon gambling losses funding that directs research topics. The result is an emphasis on rehabilitation and away from public health prevention focussed upon the machines themselves.

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    david mckinnon

    My area of experience is mental health. I’ve been a consumer for 30 years and an occasional advocate for about 10. I’ve worked with NGO’s as well. The influence of Big Pharma and the contracting out of public services are of concern. I have personal knowledge of the impact of drug companies. If you want help in this area just ask. I’m a subscriber and twitter follower.

  5. 5

    Jenny Haines

    What bugs me is that these companies cuddle up to the health system and its professionals but that does not stop them charging the health system the living earth for their products, whether it is pharmaceutical, medical equipments, instruments or whatever. If they think they can load on another 10 or 20% on the price of the product because the public health system, ie the government is paying, they have no shame or concern. Those who are concerned about rising costs in the health system should consider what goes on in this area of spending carefully before slashing into staff numbers and skills.

  6. 6


    Comparing the private breast cancer treatment I received in 2007, to public hospital policy manuals and Cancer Council Guidelines on early breast cancer, has revealed shocking differences. These include pathology testing, hospital admissions, treatments prescribed, quality of care delivered, conflict of interests, and unexpected out of pocket costs to patients.

    Pathology tests – prior to surgery, and with no physical signs except a small lump on my breast, the private surgeon requested full body CT scans with contrast, nuclear med bone scans, CXR, liver ultrasound and bloods. These same tests were all repeated two years later, when I had an elective surgical removal of my non cancerous breast and plastic reconstruction. If I had been a public patient – no tests would have been requested prior to surgery, and limited scans would be only done if cancer is found in the lymph nodes. No scans would be done for any elective procedure involving reconstructive plastic surgery. The scans were all done at the private hospital where the surgeon worked.

    Hospital admissions – All patients given chemotherapy in this private hospital are sent for an overnight stay in the private hospital after the first treatment for ‘monitoring’. This is never done in the public sector, patients are sent home with anti nausea drugs and a phone number to call a junior doctor if they need other scripts.

    Medical treatments – Despite only having grade one cancer, most of it DCIS, I was told I ‘needed chemotherapy’. In the public hospital system, chemotherapy is only given if cancer is actually found to have spread to the lymph nodes or around the body.

    Quality of care – I received no pre chemo education, no health assessments during and after chemo, no access to anti nausea drugs in between treatments and no follow up care after treatment, despite severe and chronic ill health. I was never reweighed during chemotherapy, despite losing 15% of my body weight during treatment. In the public health system all these things are mandatory. The private oncologist I saw actually works at a large public hospital less than half an hour’s walk away, where he has to reweigh all his public patients before they are given any chemotherapy, to ensure correct dosage. His private patients, who pay thousands for their treatment, are never reweighed.

    Cost – the overall cost of my treatment was $20,000 out of pocket. I received no upfront quotes for all of these costs, and was continuously caught unaware. I eventually had to sell my house to pay the bills.

    Conflict of interest – It turned out that the private clinic I had been attending, had no relationship to the Australia wide Catholic Health network who’s name it bore. It is actually a private company, run by the three doctors who work there. Any increases in safety standards, and restricting treatments for their private patients to what is strictly necessary, would mean a drop in income for the private doctors. The private doctors are all closely involved in the hospital they refer their patients to.

    I asked a retired bureaucratic from public hospitals section of DHS why there was no investigation into private hospitals, despite these sorts of gaps between public and private cancer treatments. I pointed out to him that the majority of cancer treatment is now conducted in the private health system, despite the fact that there has been no review of this change in delivery of the most expensive and complex of all the medical treatments. He replied that private hospitals simply refused to cooperate with DHS and given information about staffing levels, adverse patient events like infections, and clinical practices. Why was this allowed to continue I asked? ‘Lobbying’ he replied. ‘From whom?’ I asked. ‘From the Australian Medical Association, business lobby groups and the Liberal Party’.

    A register of ‘influences’ over public health should include these three groups.

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    I just stumbled across your site but collecting this information and making it available is a great idea. I’m in public health informatics and might be able to help with the database piece if you need.


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