Doctor shortages strain patients’ patience
Dr Lindee Jeffree will shift to private practice due to the new State Government-proposed doctor contracts. Picture: Jack Tran Source: Supplied A RESPECTED neurosurgeon is planning to leave the public hospital system and set up private practice because of the Newman Governments controversial individual contracts. Lindy Jeffree, who works at a major Brisbane public hospital, said she feared patients would die if the issue was not resolved. She said many medical specialists were making plans to set up private practices because of the controversial contracts. How much time they spend in the private sector will depend on whether the government agrees to rewrite key clauses with senior medical officers. But Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has declared that negotiations are over. If the Government makes the contracts fair, Id stay on but Ill still have some private work now which I didnt have before, Dr Jeffree said. The issue is expected to spill over in todays LNP party room meeting with doctors inundating their MPs with concerns about the contracts. Public hospital specialists from throughout Queensland are also planning to fly into Brisbane for a meeting at the Pineapple Hotel on Wednesday night to discuss strategies to get the contracts overturned. Dr Jeffree said her biggest concerns about the proposed contracts were for public hospital patients who would not receive the same level of care as experienced doctors resigned or reduced their hours working for Queensland Health. We already have challenges covering the after-hours roster without unduly fatiguing surgeons, she said. In neurosurgery, if doctors are overtired, overbusy or inexperienced, patients die. This is just because of the nature of the conditions we treat. This is a very real issue across the state in coming months. If you need urgent neurosurgical attention after hours .
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And he said the situation the report captures will only get worse, because medical schools will continue to graduate specialists at current levels for the next few years at least. I think we overshot the mark, said Lewis, who was not involved in the study. I think that there is no question that almost doubling medical school enrolments since the late 1990s combined with easier paths to licensure for international medical grads was the wrong thing to do. We didnt think it through as a country. The study was conducted for and released by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. It sets standards for physician education in the country and had been hearing anecdotes about rising numbers of unemployed doctors. So it decided to assess the situation. The ensuing report, released Thursday, is based on a survey of over 4,000 newly graduated doctors and interviews with about 50 people knowledgeable about the situation deans of medical schools, hospital CEOs and the like. It does not recommend ways to fix the issue. Dr. Michael Rieder, assistant dean of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry who was at the Windsor campus Thursday, said part of the problem is the way the medical system is structured. But theres also doctors choosing not to retire and new ones not wanting to look for work outside of Toronto and other large cities. Im not sure that there are too few doctors. I think theyre poorly distributed. There is still a shortage of family doctors in Windsor and Essex County and the report might push some medical students to consider a family practice, he said.
Surgeons, medical specialists can’t find jobs, study finds
Local hospital recruiters would not go so far as to say that their organizations are lacking certain types of medical providers. In fact, the state has an ample supply of physicians overall, said Jean Moore , director of the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the School of Public Health at the University at Albany. But there are areas of “maldistribution,” Moore and local hospital recruiters said places where supply (doctors) and demand (patients) don’t match up. The shortage of primary care doctors has been recognized for years. Only about one-third of American doctors are primary care physicians, compared to two-thirds in many European countries. Health-care observers around the nation have a simple explanation for that: specialists in the United States get paid a lot more than primary care providers. But current health reforms, including parts of the federal Affordable Care Act, are meant to change the way medical services are paid for. Under the current system, patients are charged a fee for each service. That means while a surgeon will get paid to amputate a diabetic’s foot, a primary care doctor often gets little to help a patient prevent diabetes, Moore said. Evolving payment arrangements seek to change that. “We’re trying to move toward a system that rewards good-quality care,” Moore said. Where doctors are scarce, medical practices are increasingly using physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide primary care, under the supervision of a doctor. Get used to seeing more of these providers when you go for a checkup or minor complaint, local experts said. About a quarter of the nearly 400 providers in St.