6 July 2021

How do we care when we’re not cared for?

Comment covid vaccine

The removal of MBS telephone items is just one more instance of government neglect of GPs.


My over-60 patient said to me “I’m a teacher. That’s frontline isn’t it? I should be offered the Pfizer.”

“I’m a GP and I’m not considered frontline either,” I countered.

The silent surprise on his face registered as a sense of shame. The shame one can feel as a result of neglect. Of being devalued.

People with symptoms of covid come and see me first because of their symptoms of covid, so I know I am a frontline worker.

When it comes to our profession, in which I have placed great value, my protection is ranked as B-grade. I am 1B.

I saw photos of the local hospital workers smiling on the bus when they were sent to the vaccination hub. Months ago. They were looked after. Systematically valued. There was no bus organised for me.

When the government makes an announcement and says “Speak to your GP”, I imagine people believe that the government has communicated with me in some way, in a way that indicates I have value, as a GP providing healthcare and vaccinations during this pandemic.

But the government does not notify me of the role it intends me to perform.
I hear the government announcements as a member of the public, if I happen to be listening to the news.

I am in a state of uncertainty.

This is systematic, institutional neglect.

As it is when the government makes an announcement that all vaccinations will be bulk-billed, and sets the terms for payment they will give and how they will be and will not be given – payments which cannot be negotiated and grossly undervalue the work which is needed, the staffing, the equipment which must be paid for, and the learning undertaken. I do not believe this can happen to a private contractor.

When the government cancelled most of the telehealth item numbers last week, in the middle of a lockdown – phone items which have been providing my profession with a clear line of defence against contracting covid-19 – in the absence of ensuring I have adequate personal protection, in the absence of ensuring I have the best available vaccination, this too is a form of calculated systematic institutional neglect.

How does the profession of general practitioners maintain, or regain, a sense of worth and self-respect in these circumstances?

How do we ensure general practitioners are protected, valued, and enabled to provide excellent health care?

Dr Karan is a GP in the Blue Mountains, NSW. This piece was originally published at her website tekhnomed.org.

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5 Comments on "How do we care when we’re not cared for?"

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Andrew Miller
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Andrew Miller
11 months 19 days ago
I think that you miss the point when you talk about caring. The fact is that you are to provide care, whether you care is incidental. The medical & epidemiological error is what you point out buried in the midst of your emotions of neglect (governments worry about your emotions as much as the virus does), firstly the COVID sick patient is very likely to go to a GP, and secondly the government advice is for the patient to go talk to the GP. That is what makes your grading incorrect. Write that in a letter to the PM and… Read more »
kHIN WIN
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kHIN WIN
11 months 21 days ago

I agreed completely . Since 2020 , Telehealth consult has rocketed in most of our consultation. The Medicare let us down more and more despite GP s are Front Line Heros in various way. They just ignored the Work of the GP and Devalue our job. Hospital are overflowed, specialists cant handle a lot of things and still let down to GPs. Sine last yr I have to do a lot of hosital work such as pre admission check list, consult , post op follow up etc.

Pauline Tyndall
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Pauline Tyndall
11 months 22 days ago

I agree entirely.

Monica Goldsmith
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Monica Goldsmith
11 months 23 days ago

I agree with Dr Karan’s comments with regards to the end of many item numbers we have been using for Phone Consults. I was expecting the government to postpone these changes till the end of lock down, and was very disappointed that this didn’t happen. The majority of our patients, especially the elderly, are happy with telephone consults but do not do Telehealth consults. With the end of the of many Telephone item numbers, patients will be forced to come to the surgery, which in the current climate increases the risk of spreading covid 19.

David E
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David E
11 months 23 days ago

When ?86% of GP consults are bulk billed, then we are already devaluing ourselves. The government treats us the same as we treat ourselves.

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