The Doctors Reform Society (DRS) is an organisation of doctors and medical students promoting measures to improve health for all, in a socially just and equitable way. The Society was formed in 1973 to support a proposal for a publicly-funded universal health insurance system. Medibank (now Medicare) was successfully created despite opposition from the Australian Medical Association.
All members’ views are valued, and open debate on all health issues is encouraged both within and outside the organisation. The DRS functions as a medico-political think tank, a lobby group and a public resource centre.
Membership of the Doctors’ Reform Society is open to all medical practitioners and medical students who believe that everyone, regardless of their social or economic status, should have access to high quality healthcare.Click here to find out more about membership
The National DRS Conference was held in Perth, in late October. Saturday featured two excellent presentations on issues of enormous public health significance.
Firstly, Dr Alice McGushin (intern, Royal Perth Hospital, WA) outlined the challenges around Climate Change and Health, in particular highlighting the health implications of the Paris Agreement (which has recently been officially internationally ratified) and assessing actions and programmes organised by various Doctor and Medical Student groups. She discussed her own involvement in many of these organisations, in which she has been a leader over many years.
Secondly, Dr Raewyn Mutch (Consultant Paediatrician, Princess Margaret Hospital, WA) discussed the factors that lead to people seeking asylum, and the downstream impact of these factors (including war, conflict and discrimination) on health. She also shared her first-hand experiences in working in a Refugee Health clinic, and her experience of the impact of Australian Government policies on individuals and communities.Read more here
This year’s budget claims to be about funding infrastructure and restoring fairness. The most important piece of infrastructure for the future of Australians is the people. The health of every Australian is vital for our country to progress. But almost all of the health measures in the budget are simply partial restorations of funding which has previously been slashed. It would appear this budget is designed simply to move health off the political agenda as much as possible.
Whilst extra funding for mental health and for research in primary health care is welcome, the paltry 3% increase in hospital funding is less than inflation, the Medicare rebate freeze will still remain in part for 3 years, there is no new funding for preventive health, for expansion of Primary Health Care networks to co-ordinate the chaotic health system patients have to negotiate, for dental care, or for the myriad supportive community based programs axed by the 2014 budget’s cut to flexible funding.
Funding for general practice is now becoming increasingly dependent on rents from pathology companies with multiple potential dangers as the Government attempts to reduce the cost of pathology.
Dr Tim Woodruff Dr Con Costa President Vice President
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The Medicare rebate freeze is here to stay. Despite the Federal Government announcing it had heard the electorate expressing their concerns about Medicare at the election the Prime Minister is ploughing on, claiming that savings must be made, that people should pay a copayment if they can, and anyway the bulk billing rate is going up so patients aren’t missing out.
Do savings need to be made?
Countries increase their spending on health care as they get richer. In the last decade Australia has increased spending on health care from 8.8% of GDP to 10%, a figure very slightly above the median for OECD countries (1). Our budget deficit is lower than almost every OECD country.