The government has changed the rules so that DHBs can make standing contracts for private hospitals to perform public elective surgeries.
If DHBs start to contract large numbers of electives to these private providers, they will have to hire more medical staff and they’ll have to poach them from the public system. It’s not like there are surgeons on the dole queue.
Indeed, Tony Ryall acknowledges that, saying medicos could earn extra income from doing public jobs contracted to private hospitals. Problem is, if they’re doing more work at the private hospitals, they’ll have to do less at the public hospitals, worsening the staff shortage which is the very reason for turning to the private sector in the first place. You have to wonder how Ryall is going to staff the 20 new elective surgery theatres he has promised when everyone’s off doing publicly-funded ops at private hospitals.
We’re talking the same medical staff performing the same operations. The only difference will be a private profit-making company (in the best tradition of New Zealand business) clipping the ticket on the way through. Nothing has been done to lower the per operation cost. The private hospitals charge for the operation and take their profit, then lump any problems back onto the public system. There’s no actual efficiency gain. It’s ludicrous and it’s clearly designed to undermine the public provision of health-care.
Three concluding remarks:
- National promised that they would include ‘frontline’ medical staff in decision-making. That has not happened. The Association of Salaried Medical Professionals and the Public Helath Association have both criticised the plan.
- National’s obsession with elective surgeries shows they care more about spin than actual results. Electives are good for spin because they’re easy to count (‘electives up 5%!’) but if you’re serious about the health of individuals you put money into preventative and primary health, ensuring people don’t get sick and need costly treatment in the first place. National has cut money to preventative and primary health to put more into electives.
- medical resources are limited and less than demand. Therefore, there needs to be some kind of rationing. That can either be by who has more money or who has greater need. This creeping privatisation of health shows us which National favours.