How well does government-run health care work in Australia?

From the Sydney Morning Herald. (H/T ECM)


Westmead Hospital is cancelling surgery at four times the rate the Health Department considers acceptable, and waiting times are so long some surgeons are refusing to add new patients to their operating lists.

About 8 per cent of elective surgery patients at the flagship Sydney University teaching hospital had their operation cancelled on the day of surgery, due to a shortage of post-surgical beds.

[…]Those cancellations – which Professor Fletcher said affected up to half of patients for some types of surgery – were not formally recorded.

[…]Hospitals in western Sydney have suffered staff freezes and bed cuts due to debts that last year reached $26 million.

This is what happens when you take the profit motive out of health care. If there is no way to make money, then there is no free capital that flows into the industry. If there is no free capital, then the only way to expand is by raises taxes. If taxes are already too high, then the only way to control demand is by using waiting lists. And naturally the people in power will favor the special interest groups who vote for them with faster access to treatment.

10 thoughts on “How well does government-run health care work in Australia?”

  1. It’s always easy to find a few bad examples of where a certain healthcare system isn’t working. The current healthcare sytem in the US has seen it slide rapidly down world healthcare ratings. I could then pick a equally grim if not far worse example of the current healthcare problem in the US and make the same point.

    Some hospitals in the NHS here in Britain have gone down a road that is encouraged to make profit known as Foundation Trusts, yet these have already started – see here for one horrible example:


      1. Well I actually work in the NHS so I can speak from experience that I’m more than happy with the care I would get and have had in the past.

        I’m aware that its not perfect but it generally works pretty well, when ever we have humans involved there will always be inperfections and mistakes. You wanted to knowif you were sick whether or not you would survive. Well its like anywhere in the world, 1) Whats wrong with you. 2) Where are you IE how near are you to a specialist center that can treat you.

        Britain has excellent specialist care similar to the US, however what we do differently and better is that people all get treated equally and we don’t have to fight with our insurance company to get the care we need!

        Also if people don’t want to be treated in the NHS they can have private care, its up to them. but what we don’t do is leave millions of people without good quality healthcare. A nation that claims to have tens of millions of Christians should be doing a much better job of caring for the poor not acting in the selfish way the rest of the world observes.

        Im glad I don’t have to battle with a greedy health insurance company where directors get bonuses for denying care to patients, I’m also glad im not ill, poor and living in the US.


        1. In the NHS, directors get bonuses no matter how badly they perform.

          Here are a few stories from the last 6 months or so: (And I don’t follow the NHS closely)

          And here in the USA, we have Medicaid which pays for the health care of the poor, and Medicare for the elderly.


  2. Well we both know that the media doesn’t present a fair or balanced view of an event. As i stated in a previous reply I could trawl through the net and find far worse examples than those you have given, the truth is both aren’t perfect. If you ever come to the UK and need any care we will be happy to give you FREE and QUALITY CARE. Make me angry the way you Americans keep knocking the NHS but I guess you guys think you know best.


    1. Dude. Don’t make phantom arguments. If you’ve got the data, give me a list of a dozen from the last 6 months like I did with you. And those cases are not one-offs. We are talking about HUNDREDS and THOUSANDS of people’s lives being affected.


  3. It is important to keep in mind that these foreign examples get the coverage they do because the governments in these countries have taken responsibility for ensuring the quality of care for their citizens. The media can quickly find these problems and make them public.

    In the US, equivalent visibility of the problem is not as easy to find, because it is not about a shortage of beds, but instead is about individuals not seeking treatment because the health providers have raised the rates to a level where people avoid necessary treatment because they simply cannot afford it.

    In countries like Australia, Britain and Canada, these problems will crop up, but will be made visible relatively quickly and will then be addressed appropriately because the public and the government are mutually interested.


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