Welcome to this week’s editorial,
My failure to deliver a Beagle Weekender last week was a first in 278 editions. Every Friday, come rain hail or cyclone I have managed to deliver and publish the Weekender but last week saw me ‘otherwise occupied’, flat out in a hospital bed and in a pleasant daze that drew me in and out of the world of Morpheus as I recovered from surgery.
While I could describe my malady in detail all you really need to know is that I once had a left kidney and now I don’t. But this editorial is not about the kidney. It is about our incredible public health system and the dedicated people we have working in it.
For the past six years The Beagle has run stories on the declining state of public health services brought on by failures in administration, cost cutting, poor decision making and more recently bloody mindedness on the part of bureaucrats and politicians that borders on neglect.
But the people of Eurobodalla, and the South East have stood firm in support of our health workers. The community first signed a petition that resulted in recognition of the need for a Regional hospital. That same petition demanded improvements to funding for interim improvements to be made to services and resources until the new hospital was completed.
An additional petition, to be formally handed over next week, calls for the promised radiotherapy facility to be delivered.
Each time our local nurses have gone on strike for improved patient ratios and improved wages the local community have again supported them.
And all the while, at arms length, The Beagle has done what it can to understand the outcries, to report the frustrations and anger and to reveal the political and bureaucratic shortfalls. I have spoken to so many nurses and doctors wanting to understand their frustrations and appreciating their passion and dedication but never really knew first hand just how incredible our health workers are and how fortunate we are already with the services we have at hand in the South East.
In a nutshell my own recent health journey required me to jump onto the public health conveyor belt. From the time that I first became aware of my condition the transition between doctors, specialists, pathology, scans and eventually surgery was seamless. Everything I needed in readiness was at hand in Eurobodalla, other than the team of specialist urology surgeons. That required travel to Wollongong where I was cared for 24/7 by a team of dedicated hospital staff, from doctors to nursing staff and wards folk. And all of this was under Medicare, in a public hospital, in a system we so often hear is under funded and under resourced.
Having wandered the planet and seen first hand the public health systems being offered up elsewhere I am in awe of what we have at hand already here in Australia. We are indeed the Lucky Country with the health system we have, yet for one reason or another those in power chose to devalue its workers, defund its resources, defund its research, underfund its training, disempower its protests and suggest instead that “all is good” and they know best.
My editorial today is to recognise those who were there with me on my journey. From the local doctors to the pathology people and then on to those in Wollongong. It was my journey, but made all the easier via the genuine care and regard I received at every step of the way by dedicated humans who went above and beyond, as they do with every patient they encounter.
I note that a Liberal senator has indicated that she intends to change the way she votes after the recent passing of her father. First hand experience does that to a person.
Possibly what public health in Australia needs is for our politicians and bureaucrats to experience first hand the incredible public health resource we have at hand, marvel and celebrate those at its coalface, and then ask themselves why they are so willing to run it down, underfund it, under resource it and fail to recognise it for the success it represents and the public health system it could be. Maybe then, via the viewpoint of a hospital bed, they might rise to do all they can to improve it and to show due respect for those dedicated to keeping it running.