Articles & Resources

This section currently contains full-text articles written by Doctors Reform Society members, however every view expressed is not necessarily that of the DRS. Also see Andrew Gunn’s articles.

Media Releases

UPFRONT DECLARATION OF DOCTORS FEES: WHAT IS THE AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION’S PROBLEM?

“It is disappointing to see reports in the Australian over the last three days indicating a reluctance on the part of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), and a lack of urgency from the Health Minister Mr Hunt about addressing the difficulties patients have trying to find out and compare the charges to see specialists and have procedures performed,” said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society.

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DOCTORS CONDEMN OFFENSIVE TWEETS FROM THE AMA NATIONAL PRESIDENT

AMA National President Dr Michael Gannon has used his position to tweet offensive remarks about the euthanasia debate in Victoria where Parliament is set to vote on Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation, suggesting that the debate is all about powerful people wanting change.

It seems that Dr Gannon is trying to emulate the offensive tweeting habits of Donald Trump, using his position to put his personal view forward and ignoring the fact that the medical profession is quite evenly split on this issue but are generally willing to debate without being so offensive.

It is disturbing that Dr Gannon is not respectful of different views of his members. Some are even considering resigning from the AMA because of his behaviour.

The Doctors Reform Society supports the proposed Victorian legislation and is pleased to note that the Victorian AMA is also very disappointed in Dr Gannon’s tweets to the point of apologising to Premier Andrews.

Dr Tim Woodruff                                            Dr Con Cost

President                                                       Vice President

Ph 0401042619                                               Ph 0418400309

 

 

Articles

Basic income guarantee: this is a health issue!

The intellectual stimulus for this article was the book ‘Utopia for Realists’   by Rutger Bregman. The emotional stimulus (tears and anger) was the movie ‘I, Daniel Blake’ directed by Ken Loach.

In 1970, conservative republican US President Richard Nixon introduced a health bill into the American Congress. It passed but was defeated in the Senate. He didn’t realise it was a health bill, nor did many of his fellow politicians. It was called the Family Assistance Plan, a guaranteed income for families with children, not adequate to bring the income up to the poverty line, but substantially more than was previously on offer.

It required the breadwinner to accept work if available. Thus it was targeted, conditional, and inadequate by itself to eliminate poverty, but it was a huge change in thinking from a conservative leader in the United States. It came with this impressive rhetoric

 “Initially this new system will cost more than welfare, but unlike welfare this is designed to correct the condition it deals with and thus lessen the long range burden and cost.”

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5th Dec 2016

Joining the dots: how universal healthcare is being undermined

Source: Croakey independent, in-depth social journalism for health
By: Dr Tim Woodruff

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.

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Published Letters

1st May 2017

Narrow Vision of Elites

The Age
By: Dr Tim Woodruff

The most important part of a nation’s infrastructure is the people. People who are sick are less productive. Parents, children and partners of sick people are less productive as they take time to care for loved ones.
But this government has systematically attacked investment in the health of that infrastructure (the people) by freezing the Medicare rebate, and cutting promised dental care and funding to multiple community-based care organisations and so on. The aim of making Australia more productive reflects the narrow vision of the elites who run our country. Instead the government will continue to subsidise the private health and hospitals industries and pay $445 million above world market prices to the pharmaceutical industry for prescription drugs.

18th Apr 2017

Medicare safety net a Coalition gimmick

The Age
By: Dr Tim Woodruff

The abuse of the extended Medicare safety net is no surprise (The Age, 15/4). When it was introduced by John Howard, the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association detailed in its monthly newsletter how a psychiatrist could make more money without any extra care or cost to the patient. Also, most of the money spent through the safety net goes to rich electorates. Very little goes to patients in poor electorates. The scheme has helped many doctors financially but was a gimmick designed to fool people into believing the Coalition cared about out-of-pocket costs. In fact, the Medicare rebate freeze sends a clear message this government wants patients to pay more out of their pocket.

Dr Tim Woodruff, Doctors Reform Society

Submissions

Submission to the 2017 Review of Australia’s climate change policies

What about health impacts?

The Doctors Reform Society is a health organisation which aims to improve health for all people in a socially just and equitable way. We believe that human health depends fundamentally on a healthy environment. We accept the scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming is occurring, that this is a great hazard to health, and that urgent action to combat this is required.(1)

It is from our health perspective that we wish to make a brief submission to the current review of Australia’s climate change policies. This complements and in places overlaps with our recent submission to the National Electricity Market review.(2)

We welcome the discussion paper’s acknowledgement that the climate change is a global issue requiring an international response, in which Australia has an important role to play.(3)

However, we note the near-absence of discussion of health in the discussion paper – indeed, the word “health” appears only once, in reference to motor vehicle emissions rather than climate change impacts. It is vital that the Australian government responds to climate change not just as an environmental issue or an energy issue but also as a serious health issue…

Read the full submission here..

Submission to the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market

The Doctors Reform Society is a health organisation which aims to improve health for all people in a socially just and equitable way. We believe that human health depends fundamentally on a healthy environment. We accept the scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming is occurring, that this is a great hazard to health, and that urgent action to combat this is required.(1)

It is from our health perspective that we wish to make a brief submission in response to the Preliminary Report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market.

We welcome the report’s acknowledgement that the Australian electricity sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, its recognition that the transition to a low emissions economy is imminent, and its awareness of the importance of integrating emissions reduction and energy policies.(2)

However, we note the absence of discussion of health in the Preliminary Report – indeed, the word “health” appears nowhere in its pages…

Read the full submission here.