The Post COVID Future…..

With the lifting of some social distancing sanctions this week, NASOG members will hopefully start to notice that their local private hospitals are starting to increase the number of less urgent category two and in time also category three elective surgeries. As there will be a large demand for available theatre time, I urge you to make contact with your local hospital theatre bookings department to discuss prospective cases and make sure they fit the federal government mandated requirements. Also make sure that the hospital has adequate supplies of PPE and fairly allocates available theatre time to all doctors across all disciplines.

NASOG continues to lobby the Federal Government for sensible and fair post COVID-19 management of the health system, which will surely be for ever changed. Now more than ever, the role of private medicine in providing the lion’s share of elective surgery in Australia, must be protected.

It is vital that long standing Medicare and health insurer inadequacies in the funding of women’s health are addressed to ensure the survival of private care. Australian women have had decades of under investment in their healthcare. The underfunding of obstetric services continues to be of major concern, but across the board women need more access and choice for gynaecological care and surgery as well as fertility services, specialised imaging and other sub-specialist women’s health care.

Later this week I will speaking to a group of engaged and enthusiastic young medical students and doctors at the PVOGS virtual meeting about starting a career in obstetrics and gynaecology. I am heartened that our specialty continues to attract young people to enter a training program that is one of the most challenging of all the medical speciality training programs.

It is vital that junior doctors attracted to a career in women’s health do not get forgotten once training is done but that we support and lobby for them to have a satisfying and rewarding long term career.

This is the key role of NASOG – to ensure that doctors working in women’s health can gain access to employment in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology into the future. We need to ensure that the private sector, which will employ over 70% of them, not only survives but thrives and continues to deliver more than two thirds of all elective surgery in Australia. Our patients deserve to have the best care available, delivered by doctors appropriately trained and remunerated sufficiently so they can concentrate on delivering this care rather than how they will keep the practice doors open.

As I write this, I have received information from at least one state where the AMA has strongly recommended doctors do not sign up to the first draft of a contract which has been put out by a state health department. READ MORE HERE

Each state will have its own contract drafted for doctors planning to deal with transfer of public elective patients into the private sector and it is important that you are aware of what is being offered in your particular state and how best to protect your interests. We will continue to update you with information as it becomes available to us.

Similarly, a number of private insurers are exploring contractual agreements with hospitals and providers which run dangerously close to integrated managed care models of healthcare delivery and we ask if approached, please forward details to NASOG, so we can access resources to look at proposals and ensure your interests are protected and rights not lost.

While the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve, there are a number of signs that things are improving and NASOG will continue to ensure the voice of Australia’s women’s health specialists is heard at the highest level. There is much work to be done and we aim to keep you informed as we work towards the new health world order post COVID.

A/Prof Gino Pecoraro

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