1 September 2017

The perils of chocflation


Shopping for my favourite brand of chocolate biscuit I swoop on the “classic”. Hmm, I think my Scottish cousins would love these.

I weigh them in my hand and realise that the packet seems to have shrunk while the price has stayed the same. It’s even worse when I look at the caramel-?avoured biscuits, right next to the classics. They’re not the usual 13 biscuits, but a paltry 11 biscuits in a pack.

And not to mention the household favourite brand of chocolate. What was a family-size bar that could have satis?ed four hungry teenagers a few years back has shrunk to a size to make only three teenagers happy.

I realise that is a way that manufacturers seem to keep competitive with other brands, while taking into account in?ation.

Not so in GP land. Even as the Medicare rebate does not keep pace with in?ation, the demands from our clients (whoops, patients), increase exponentially.

What begins as an encounter with a new elderly female patient whose previous GP has gone to the great golf course in the sky, ends 25 minutes later sans hearing aids, taking a tour of eight important medical conditions, and another two unfortunately untreated ones.  And that’s only the start of my morning.

Are the patients getting older, or am I?

I’ve started doing a chocolate-biscuit assessment of my day.  Is it an 11-biscuit pack day? That is, fairly average. Or a 15-biscuit pack day? One requiring much time for each patient (no six-minute medicine I wish), with paltry ?nancial return for each.

Unfortunately, the returns for me between the 11- and 15-biscuit pack days are much the same.

I wish I could just put 11 biscuits in each pack, but unfortunately the biscuit munchers would revolt and ?nd another biscuit factory down the road to go to.

No surprise that I’m telling my kids not to learn how to sell chocoloate biscuits if they get to university. Rather, they should learn how to sell gilt-edged macarons instead.

Dawn Oi is a GP in metropolitan Melbourne who hones her skills by writing referral letters all day