When are GPs actually going to say, “I’m crazy as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore…” and then act on it?
As you know I am not a GP and as such I often fail to reach the finish line when it comes to understanding what is going through the minds of many GPs .
I try to compensate for this significant inconvenience by calling a bunch of GPs I know whenever I really don’t understand what is going on and asking them to explain. But I admit it, I still can’t figure things out even after doing this.
Last Sunday, I listened in disbelief to the late afternoon press conference held by the Premier of New South Wales, Dominic Perrottet, during which he announced his decision to allow the trials prescription drug store in that state.
Queensland, I sort of get it. The Sunshine State has always been a little crazy when it comes to health care, so I’ve always left some slack in their government.
But NSW? He is not known to be part of the mad fraternity of the pharmacy lobby. In fact, he’s been known to resist many crazy ideas from the Pharmacy Guild, whose influence is greatest in Canberra and the Sunshine State.
It all came out of nowhere. It has therefore been very difficult to get an idea of what really happened, if not because of the very obvious political expediency of promising patients better access to care when things get even worse. in addition. And, of course, not having to pay for it.
Perrottet’s presser performance made it pretty clear that the ink was barely dry on the plan and there was little chance of informing him before he was asked to talk about it.
His main line was that the plan would increase underprivileged patients’ access to medicine and care and reduce hospital admissions (which he obviously would not do). But while explaining this, he failed to point out that patients would have to pay through their nose for this access. They would pay a pharmacist consultation fee and even more for drugs because the feds will not subsidize any drugs prescribed through PBS because the idea is so dangerous and stupid.
I’m sure he wouldn’t even have realized that this problem existed.
He also did not discuss the safety issues of allowing a pharmacist, who is not qualified to diagnose and likely would not have access to patient longitudinal records, to check for obvious prescribing issues. things like contraception or urinary tract infections. .
Nor was there, of course, any mention of the more than obvious conflict of interest in the prescription benefit.
It is obvious that neither he nor any of his underlings informed or discussed the idea with groups of general practitioners before the press conference. It sounds more like they just listened to someone from the Pharmacy Guild talk about the quality of these trials in Queensland.
But you know all that. It’s Groundhog Day, right?
Another day, another politician chipped away at the fundamentals of GP care and access through a combination of ignorance, apathy and political expediency.
But what couldn’t I take if I was a GP watching this press conference?
What would drive me “crazier than hell, unable to take it any longer” (to borrow from that famous line in Network), would be how NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, was deeply condescending and offensive to the GP profession.
“We need to take care of our patients and you should be part of that equation, not block it,” he told ABC reporters when asked about objections from GP groups.
‘No one is suggesting for a second that patients shouldn’t go to see their GP on a regular basis,’ he said.
“But if you need to get that antibiotic you should be able to get it quickly – not waiting for a GP for maybe six weeks.
“My message to GPs is, ‘I love you very much, but you just need to relax’.”
Cool. Relax, everyone. Brad has that.
It’s lucky that Hazzard is retiring, because being so condescending – although generalists never seem to struggle with this stuff – is about to push a long-sleeping bear a little too much. It’s politically stupid because it’s asking for trouble unnecessarily.
There is a limit, somewhere in the not too distant future, to GPs being so friendly, polite and accommodating. I wonder if we’re starting to get close.
So I called a few GPs and while I hit the normal, really nice and community-minded ‘don’t go down the gutter with them’ normals, I hit another one or two who said, ‘ no, I would do that”.
To defend oneself.
Fight dirty, even.
Here’s a quick “two can play this game”, counter the dirty idea:
How do we think Dom and his Macquarie Street friends would feel if the poster we’ve attached to this article (and reproduced below) started appearing in GP waiting rooms across the state?
Imagine if he saw one in his own GP’s waiting room?
I’m thinking of posting a few along Macquarie Street – although having admitted it might be difficult to avoid prosecution, I might not.
You wouldn’t even need it to go up. You would just need photos of them in situ at a few practices, ideally one in the Dom electorate, to go around the relevant social media with a few smart pants hashtags – #Domdontcare, for example.
Get a reasonably profiled consumer diary – Nine and the ABC surely owe the GP profession a favor these days – and it could easily turn into quite an embarrassing story fairly quickly.
Someone should explain how these mild-mannered, community-minded, apolitical, baby-boomer-centric professionals suddenly got so crazy and a bit radical.
Some GPs looking at this poster are going to be a bit surprised because this poster is not fair. You have to impute a lot of oversimplified takeaways to get a message across. That’s pretty much what politicians do in stupid door stops on a Sunday afternoon.
My bet is that if just one of these posters went up and was photographed with any sort of reasonably profiled, tagged, and liked social media post, it would annoy at least some of the Macquarie Street apparatchiks.
A small victory, I know, but it could just send a signal that if politicians continue to take advantage of GPs as they constantly do, they might get closer to their antics which would backfire badly.
With Queensland almost under the belt of the pharmacy lobby and with NSW now in play they could soon have the whole east coast of Australia, and once that happens they can target pharmacy prescribing at scale national through the backdoors of the state.
Could this really happen, given the seriousness of the lawsuits in Queensland, the conflict of interest and the security concerns? Well, we know from Queensland that the trials are more or less contrived and designed to endorse the whole process.
And now they have NSW.
If you look around you, there are no serious political stakes put in place by general practitioners to slow down such a domino effect. And Victoria is now in election mode, so you can bet the Guild is trying it there too.
Yes, we have the usual sensible objections from the AMA and the RACGP.
But look how Brad Hazzard turned them down – literally “relax guys, you’re a bunch of freaking merchants, we’ve got this, sit back, wait…you can trust us”.
Does he seem to feel threatened?
That’s what you’ll get with politicians unless you get down and start threatening them right at the polls.
A respondent to my quick survey of GPs on this question asked me if I thought if she put up a poster would she then be targeted for a payroll tax audit by the State Revenue Office.
Such a response goes to how embattled and fearful some GPs are of the government and what they might be capable of.
And with what cynicism some have come to view their governments.
After the recent NSW government shenanigans over jobs for the boys in New York and some fairly obvious interference directly from Macquarie Street in senior civil servants’ processes, you can forgive the GP for being cautious.
But for what it’s worth, I really don’t think any politician can get away with calling the commissioner of the State Revenue Office and saying, ‘Look, I saw that nasty poster on my GP’s wall this week. about me and the pharmacy prescribing, and i think she needs a lesson on who’s boss here. Send an audit to this troublemaker.. .”
It could, however, make a script on a new series of Rake.
I was screaming in front of the TV when Hazzard said that. The level of arrogance and ignorance was breathtaking.
Then how do do they get away with all this?
Download the poster here