With the circus of Australian Politics in full swing again, and the Federal Opposition voting in as their leader a religious nut job, I sometimes wish we lived in a more socialist system.
Not that I want socialism per se, just a utopian political system that could actually get things done.
The problem of course with our current political structure is that no long term big and I mean big steps forward seem to be made.
Forget Climate Change for a moment it's just too much of a hot potato.
Think in terms of infrastructure and health care.
In Australia we have multiple levels of government funded healthcare with competing interests, some overlap and lots and lots of duplication of services.
The split of funding between local councils for aged care services such as meals on wheels etc, your local GP being federally funded while your hospitals are state funded.
A long time ago many light years away I worked in the health system in Health IT / Informatics and saw from an insiders perspective just how complex the health system is.
Going backwards and forwards between medical appointments with my mother has reminded me just how inefficient and problematic our healthcare system is.
Each time she saw a new specialist, they would get a written letter from the referring DR, half the time the new DR would ask the same questions as the last and even worse would order the same diagnostic tests.
Then they would have to start their own health record that they create on her because we have no universal healthcare record accessible by all health practitioners.
But not just the lack of sharing of test results etc, there is a general lack of consistency or management of care.
My mother's GP tries to be the one in the loop on all of these things, but because a GP is paid by the Federal Government for the actual time they see a patient unless the GP is a good GP they are not going to manage the care properly.
The Hospitals are starved of funds and facilities for two reasons,
1) The cost of healthcare is skyrocketing,
2) No one politically wants to actually spend the billions of dollars required to fix the failing infrastructure.
Sure this is all high level utopian stuff and it's a simplistic view on the problem, but at the core of the problem is when politicians are only in power for a 4 year term there is little impetus to embark on a program that ay take twenty years to actually fix and could just be a money pit with little results for ten years.
Personally I believe very strongly that ALL healthcare should be managed federally, sure you can have local and regional management, that's important.
But we need to get rid of the competition for funding between different parts of the healthcare system.
It's ridiculous that GPs and hospitals are funded by totally different levels of government and have totally different political machinations.
In NSW we have multiple different Area Health Services which manage different hospitals, guess what most of them have different procurements systems, different HR systems, different systems full stop. Each with their own costs and own problems.
If banks did that for each 'region' of branches they would be losing money hand over fist through the mere inefficiencies.
I understand that there is no one solution that fits all problems, but did you know that in Australia we can't even agree on a standard version of what an Electronic healthcare record should look like?
Sure there are huge privacy implications for the Health Care Record and gay men have a valid privacy concern. Technically we don;t even have a standard way of identifying each person in the health care system across australia, the medicare number is kind of it and there have been pushes over the years to link their with a an electronic health care record.
But privacy advocates have quashed this as big brother being able to track us etc.
So it comes down to political will to actually change the system and make a system that actually works, but with politicians only on power for four year terms the really really hard and controversial issues never get addressed properly and no one will make a stand.
We as citizens demand superb health care and bemoan the state of our public hospitals, but then in the same breath we jump up and down at the outrageous claims of lack of privacy, potential discrimination etc.
It's about time for us to realize if we want a superb health care system we also have to make some choices and draw a line in the sand.
In a utopian world we would have:
Standardized Electronic Health Care Record - that we as consumers controlled who saw what;
Centralized services for the simple stuff like, procurement, HR, finance etc
One overarching government department which linked all health care together.
But of course we live in the world we live in, with no real progress being made because many of the choices to be made are difficult for the masses to actually get their head around, and so the masses get whipped up by the media sensationlism -
Guess what just like Barrack Obama's health care plan.