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Surgical Waiting Lists - A Funding ProblemThu, 13 Feb 2003

"It is easy to believe that the problems of the Australian public hospital system would be solved tomorrow by simply doubling the number of surgeons being trained," said Dr John Harrison, National Chairman of the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons (ASOS).

A recent ACCC draft determination on the future training of Surgeons by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has recommended that governments take greater control of medical specialist training.

Dr Harrison said "It's also convenient for governments, private health funds, and the ACCC to blame the doctors for the problems of the Australian health care system. It makes for a great conspiracy theory with convenient scapegoats."

"Sadly, such beliefs do not stand up to intelligent analysis."

"Australia has no shortage of Orthopaedic Surgeons."

"Our surveys show Australian Orthopaedic Surgeons are under worked as far as joint replacement is concerned in the public hospital system because of funding cutbacks that restrict access to public hospital operating theatre time."

"It comes as no surprise to any reasonable person that rationing health care expenditure in order to contain costs by State governments creates waiting lists. State governments then blame the Commonwealth for forcing them into this situation who in turn blame the States in an endless game of political ping pong."

"In NSW some extra funding has been made available to increase theatre time in some rural hospitals in belated recognition by the NSW Government that cutbacks to public orthopaedic caseloads in rural areas has a negative influence on the efforts to attract Orthopaedic Surgeons to practice in rural NSW."

"In the private system there are no delays in major centres for orthopaedic procedures. There is and always will be regional variations in the distribution of private services, mainly according to population."

"We have a duty to the public and to the reputation of our Medical Colleges to ensure that graduates are selected and trained properly and that they have a real job to go to when they graduate," said Dr Harrison.

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