Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Let's Ban Drivel: Commentary on A Tale of a Few Hospitals

Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Let's Ban Drivel: Commentary on A Tale of a Few Hospitals

Article excerpt

Before you read on, this is a commentary based on anecdote - not the stuff of high-level evidence. But let me tell you, from the feedback I get from listeners across Australia, Anne Cahill's story is pretty mainstream. You can argue I'm talking rubbish - and I know there are many exceptions, possibly even a growing number of them - but many health service managers would not have a clue about what's going in their hospitals in terms of being service focused because they don't look and they don't measure.

There's one phrase I want banned. It's patient centred care. I reckon it tells you as much about a health service that professes it, as it does about a corporation which, under its mission statement, says something like: "Our biggest asset is our people." You just know that's one company to steer clear of, and I'd give the health service a very wide berth as well. These words trip off our tongues onto Word files and butcher's paper and might allow organisations to feel better. But they don't change the end result which, as Anne Cahill's experience and that of many others suggests, is that in some of our hospitals the patient is an irritant, a stone in the shoes of highly trained experts who have a job to do and know just how it should be done.

When you put this to health professionals and managers the response is usually about lack of resources. But as Anne's account illustrates, good service does not necessarily require much more money. You suspect, in fact, that it's often more efficient. What it does need though is competent management and confident, appropriate leadership to instill an attitude of mind focused on serving the community and individuals alongside the development of processes to ensure that service is maintained. All too often you hear of major hospital CEOs who are micro-managing either because they've been promoted far beyond their abilities, or more commonly they're good managers who've self-hobbled because their minister's office has scared the daylights out of them. They've become traumatized and risk averse lest the local tabloid discovers that tax payers' money is being spent on a free coffee machine in a busy outpatients' department.

I also suspect that public hospital services are seen by some consultants as poor-house charity for which we should be grateful. If you want comfort and privacy, that's what going private is for. Mind you, I'm impressed that Anne found a public outpatient clinic at all given the cost shifting that's occurred in several jurisdictions over the last few years. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.