Where Have All The Doctor’s Gone?
I am finding myself increasingly frustrated at the inaccessibility of Doctor’s in Melbourne at the moment. I live a mere 9Kms from the CBD and have encountered the following:
- I cannot get into any Doctors surgeries in the area as they all have closed books. When I rang one surgery they gave me an appointment only to renege when they discovered I was a new patient.
- I cannot get same day appointments at the bulk billing clinic which will take me, even for sick children.
- At the bulk billing clinic I wait an average of 1hr to be seen, even when I make an appointment. There are only two doctors at this clinic who I am willing to trust which doesn’t help.
- I can go the bulk billing clinic before 10.30am as a “walk in” and be seen by my preferred doctor. This is the best option for me as he priorities people with small children, however I am conscious that this then throws out the appointments of everyone else.
In some regards I know I shouldn’t complain, waiting for doctors seems to be the status quo (not through any fault of the doctors). But, when the health of my children are involved it does become worrisome.
Early last week I became concerned that Bear was becoming dehydrated. After calling Nurse-On-Call (as opposed to the Maternal & Child Health Line which, while good, has a wait time of over one hour to get through, most of the time making the service redundant) they advised that I needed to take Bear to the Doctor within the next 4 hours as they too believed that he was becoming dehydrated.
Rang the doctors surgery.
No there were no appointments.
When I told them what the nurse had said they agreed that he needed to be seen by a Doctor.
Yes, you heard right. They agreed he needed to see a Doctor but they couldn’t give me an appointment.
Am I living in loopy-ville? This is a not-yet-5-month-old-baby we are talking about.
After weighing up the options I decided to give him some extra feeds and pay close attention to his nappies and at the end of the day called the Nurse on Call line again and we all agreed he was fine. It was likely a combination of him coming down with a cold and me not being used to boys nappies.
But, what if he wasn’t?
Yes, I could have gone to a clinic or hospital and waited hours to be seen not to mention clogging up an already stretched system. I could have dragged my toddler there and endured all sorts of fun times until I was ready to poke my eyes out with a stick. Yes, I could have done that AND I would have done that had it gotten worse.
But, surely it’s reasonable to think that as I live in a council that has had the largest baby boom in the city over the past 4 years that perhaps there would be enough doctors to go around? Yes, I know this is a first world problem & I should get over myself because at least we have “free” health care and good doctors. Yes, but we also have exhausted, overstretched, under-resourced doctors working crazy hours because demand is greater than supply.
Adding to this last night my girlfriend called an ambulance for her 5month old son and it didn’t come. I know ambulances are triaged, and rightly so, but surely a 5 month old baby is considered a priority!
What is happening to our health care system? When Victoria is supposed to offer one of the better services in our country, I am very, very concerned.