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    Dr Harry Hemley, President AMA Victoria

    Dr Pesce spoke at length at the media conference yesterday about hospital alternatives and non-traditional hospital services such as hospital in the home.

    At the moment we are in election mode in Victoria, and both parties have promised much needed additional beds. AMA Victoria statements have emphasised that these additional beds should provide the room for innovation and reform.

    Our main election statement says, in part:

    “We need a plan not only to increase hospital capacity in line with growing population, but to look towards innovation and bold ideas in the health system….

    … the long term vision for Victoria’s health care should not just be more of the same.”

    There are a number of examples of what we’d like to see in Victoria at

    [Dr Harry Hemley is President, AMA Victoria]

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    It’s not a really good idea to listen to the richest union in the country with their continual whining about more stuff.

    It is always about more money for them.

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    Jenny Haines

    Government and the public need to realise that the AMA are not the only voice that speak for doctors. There are numerous organisations that represent doctors, but the AMA does represent the richest and best connected doctors politically. When I hear their public statements I take them in context, but I wonder how many others do? They only represent certain doctors, and mostly not those who work in primary health care and preventative health. Bed spaces, public and private, are money making opportunities for doctors. One has to be able to pay for the kids private school fees! Having said all that, there is a shortage of beds in the public health system a result of 30 years of rationalisation, reorganisation, delineation of hospital roles, the shortage of nurses, especially skilled and experienced nurses, and it is useful to have the big booming voice of the AMA reminding government of the shortage and the social and health impacts of that shortage of beds. And at the same time we need to move ahead with the development of primary health care and preventative health strategies and the government is doing that with the establishment this week under legislation of the National Preventative Health Agency. There is great hope for this Agency, particularly in rural and remote areas.

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    Agnes With A Hat

    >> Bed spaces, public and private, are money making opportunities for doctors. One has to be able to pay for the kids private school fees!

    You are incorrect.

    Doctors in *public* hospitals are paid the same salary regardless of how many patients they see or operations they do. Specialist surgeons are paid the same salary as specialist endocrinologists.

    Doctors working *privately* earn money in relation to how much they can bill the patient/medicare. Surgeons can thus earn much more than physicians who don’t do procedures, which attract much higher fees and medicare rebates than a consultation. There is thus a financial incentive for doctors working privately to see as many patients as possible and bill them for procedures rather than a consultation. The ethical issues behind this are clear.

    Of course, many doctors work in both systems, but the fact remains that public hospital specialists don’t earn anything extra if they put more beds in (besides any required overtime to see those patients).


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