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Submissions to the People's Inquiry have now closed.

Thanks to everyone who made a submission. We have received hundreds of submissions from individuals and organisations, and are currently working on analysing the submissions to produce a final report for the inquiry, to be released early 2017. 

  • Peter Hiv
    commented 2016-08-25 20:04:27 +1000
    I have had HIV since 2008. I was diagnosed in early 2009 after having a particularly hard sero-conversion. I attended the publicly funded and free Albion St Centre for the HIV test and diagnosis as I felt my local GP was out of her depth with it.

    After starting HIV meds I had an allergic reaction to Truvada and Naprosyn causing complete kidney failure in a matter of days. My kidney specialist at Prince of Wales hospital told me upon discharge that I was about 48 hours from death when I arrived at the Prince of Wales Emergency. If not for the co-ordination between Albion St Clinic and Prince of Wales hospital I’d very likely be dead. The kidney failure was picked up by chance in my three monthly blood tests in having HIV, which were of course free and done at the Albion St Centre.

    You can find my experiences of that time on my blog:

    Since that time it has been a long recovery back to something like a life. I’m now classified as chronically ill, with kidney functions monitored regularly along with HIV levels, and everything else they do. I take 13 tablets a day for both mental and physical health. I struggle with suicidal thoughts at times. I survive on the DSP paying private rent, having to draw money out of my super under financial hardship legislation ($10,000yr) to get by.

    I rely completely on bulk billing for my medical needs. I rely completely on free blood tests and free HIV doctor visits for my regular health preventative checks. There are times I go to the doctor without a cent, as I often go for days on end with no money at all.

    Currently I’m having trouble with my eyes, the left one I think a cataract. My doctor sent me to a bulk billing optometrist but when I got there they said I had to pay a $30 “imaging fee”. This because the gov is shifting costs from the gov to the private sector, the private sector passing that cost on to me, a pensioner.

    I couldn’t pay it. I tried to but couldn’t get the money together. This financial year I’ll get about a bit under $17,000 for the partnered DSP and my share of the rent out of that is about $10,000. It’s just impossible that I would be expected to pay anything.

    The wider concern is of course the threats of a co-payment to blood tests (I need at least 4 a year as a default, but often more) and the threats of a co-payment to see my doctor. Luckily my doctor has been seeing me for years and the centre understands people in my situation. For those working they charge more to subsidise those of us who simply can’t pay.

    However my concern is for many medical centres around Australia that of June this year are stopping bulk billing for everyone, including pensioners. Can you imagine me having to pay to see a doctor and for a blood test? Impossible as it is I’d likely just not go having no choice about it.

    The bigger concern is for those in the community with HIV. The strategy to end this bloody virus is to get tested regularly, if positive get on treatment straight away and become “undetectable” re HIV virus levels, and maintain good health, making it just about impossible to pass it on.

    Many of those who have HIV don’t know they have it. They go around infecting people without knowing it. What will happen to HIV infection rates if these people have to start paying to see a doctor and get a blood test?

    All the encouragement is presently aimed at ending HIV in Australia by 2020. The privatisation of services which shifts costs away from gov into the private sector, businesses, and patients is diametrically opposed to the fight against HIV.

    Thank you for your time,

    Peter Barkla.
  • Kenneth Procter
    commented 2016-08-25 08:13:57 +1000
    Having been through the decade long (1994-2004) experiment of private management of Port Macquarie’s public hospital, I submit the following evaluation of that experience as a nurse working in public hospital services in Port Macquarie since 1990.

    For staff who transferred from Hastings District Hospital, the guarantees from politicians and health bureaucrats on continuation of public award entitlements ended up being interpreted by the private management to their best advantage. Whilst wage rates were protected, other Public Award conditions were not as secure as we were led to believe. For example, we missed out on the roll out of Department of Health funding for ten hour night shifts as we were considered a ‘private’ hospital. The flat management structure of the privatised hospital meant that Nurse and Midwifery Unit Managers had additional tasks added to their workloads. In 2004, when the hospital came under public management, we were well behind in the numbers of nurses and midwives in consultant and education positions. Under private management, fewer allied health staff than would be normally expected in a publicly managed Base Hospital, meant that nurses and midwives had additional tasks in trying to cover for these staffing shortfalls.

    Recruitment and promotion in the public service has a level of transparency that is absent in the private sector. Private management favoured appointment of staff with the right corporate mind set. Even on the day to day staffing of wards, when you have nurses and midwives employed under both Public and Private Awards, pressures to reduce wage costs inevitably influenced who was offered additional or overtime shifts.

    Private management sought to reduce the number of staff employed under the Public Award. Tactics that were employed at Port Macquarie included using requests for variation in hours of employment to shift staff onto new contracts under the Private Award. Diminished direct connections with the public sector, meant that the paths for career development in the public sector were less accessible.

    We had to fight against the widespread introduction of unregulated Assistants In Nursing (AINs). An attempt was made to employ large numbers of AINs under the guise of this being an innovative model of care.

    Twelve years on Port Macquarie Base Hospital still suffers in comparison with peer hospitals due to the legacy of the decade of privatisation. This is particularly felt in the inadequate numbers of allied health staff and the level of services provided by the contracted pharmacy, radiology and pathology providers.

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