Nurses are waging industrial action, surgeons warn of skills shortages, and millions are being invested on machines to improve processing power, writes David Hutchins.
If you are promising voters increased service levels and offering better care outcomes , engaging in a bitter and accusatory campaign with the people dispensing the service is counter-intuitive.
Technology is never introduced to maintain staff levels, but bureaucrats and administrators smitten with promises of increased efficiencies should not forget their greatest asset is, and always will be, their people.
Since the industrial revolution, workers have struggled to swallow the silver bullets promised with each new technological release, despite being told that they won’t hurt a bit. Job losses result and the people retained must get with the program and become champions in the brave new world if they are going survive successive purges.
Australian governments are introducing technology into the health system to strip-mine efficiencies and savings and hopefully cap spiralling costs. Fundamental elements of healthcare service delivery, must be given reasonable weight, lest they shoot themselves in their bureaucratic boots.
Governments should realise dismissing, denigrating and disenfranchising your primary workforce, to which you have been selling the marvels of technology that you are installing for millions, and which you hope to be the primary users of the technolgy, could be counter-productive.
If you are promising voters increased service levels and offering better care outcomes, engaging in a bitter and accusatory campaign with the people dispensing the service is counter-intuitive.
H&A covers the continuing industrial actions of Victoria’s nurses as well as those of their NSW colleagues on Page 10. The Victorian nurses are committed to defy Fair Work Australia orders and continue their campaign for maintaining and improving nurse patient ratios, better pay and work place conditions. The struggle is acrimonious, with the Victorian government declaring its considering docking the nurses pay.
The NSW nurses have been conducting similar campaigns with, it seems, much less acrimony. They suggest a new Financial Transactions Tax could fund the changes in healthcare required to maintain optimal nurse patient ratios and other valuable reforms.
While the industrial actions of nurses are grabbing the headlines, their sentiments about funding better labour levels in health are familiar catch cries throughout the industry. On page 21 the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is saying an additional 43 percent of surgical graduates are required a year to prevent a threatening skills shortage.
The College maintains the shortage will, within 10-15 years impact on our operating theatres ability to cope, is due to insufficient funding of surgical training places.
These challenges, which are evident at all levels of healthcare, will not be eradicated with the latest technology solutions that presents Governments with the possibility of processing patients with less people.
University of NSW, Professor of Intensive Care, Kenneth Hillman considers some of the challenges of caring for people with ageing related conditions on page 14. He presents some valuable insights on the sometimes uncomfortable union of clinical care, pragmatism and philosophy.
Western Australia’s new premier tertiary hospital the $2 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital is being built south of Perth. On page 18, H&A discusses the project, which is due to be commissioned in 2014, with executive director Brad Sebbes. It promises many advances in patient outcomes for Western Australia and is one of the nation’s few green field hospital builds.
Patient arrivals is a perennial problem for many hospitals with the time consuming process uncomfortable for patients and difficult to management. However on page 24, H&A considers Queensland’s Redcliffe Hospital which has implemented its Patient Automated Arrival System, to eliminate queues, reduce patient appointment times, and save more than $20,000 a month.
Its a good example of people developing technology to assist people and increase service levels, rather than replacing people and exasperating service levels.
More than $40 million dollars is being invested upgrading the Emergency Department of Sydney’s St George Hospital. David Hutchins says facility executives are confident it will be business as usual throughout the project