Australia is a long way from meeting its targets for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination, according to The Guardian’s vaccine tracker project, and medical leaders are also raising concerns about the rollout.
However, health policy analyst and Croakey editor Jennifer Doggett is not remotely surprised there are issues, and suggests that anyone surprised by the slow rollout has not been paying attention to longstanding concerns about our fragmented health system.
Jennifer Doggett writes:
I can’t understand why people (individuals, journalists, commentators etc) are shocked and are blaming the Federal Government for the slow pace of the rollout of COVID vaccination in Australia.
Have they not listened to the decades of advocacy from consumers and health groups about the fact that we do not have a ‘health system’? About the complete lack of coordination and integration across professional/jurisdictional/health care setting boundaries?
Or did they just not take it seriously when consumers with chronic and complex conditions talk about the problems they experience in navigating the health ‘system’? Did they not think that these problems would ever impact them?
We can’t even get hospitals and GPs to share information about individual patients they are jointly treating. So it should come as no surprise that we can’t coordinate the massive logistical and communication exercise that is vaccine rollout.
We have a deeply divided and fragmented health ‘system’, with federal and state/territory governments running their own agendas, a general practice sector alienated from the rest of primary health care, professional groups wasting time and energy competing over buckets of money and where consumers’ needs are consistently disregarded in favour of vested interest groups and sectional professional interests.
As much as it is convenient to have someone to blame – these are not problems a group of bureaucrats in Canberra can solve – even with a few months notice. They are also not problems that the current Federal Government can be expected to solve on its own.
The Government is only at fault to the extent that it has not made efforts to address these systemic problems – and they are not alone in that. Previous governments, the medical and health professions and other interest groups also need to share the responsibility for this failure.
No consumer with a chronic or complex condition who has battled the failures of the health ‘system’ for years would be surprised about the current problems with vaccine rollout.
The only surprise is how little we appear to have been listening to them and learning from their experiences.