30 July 2007

Getting the treatment

Congratulations to Jase on getting out of the press gallery for this piece, and for once leaving the Howard-Costello non-story alone. It just shows that the sloppy research and silly assumptions go beyond what happens inside Parliament and surrounding restaurants:

  • The Heckler-style tone of the article generally

  • The silly sweeping statement in the third paragraph

  • The idea that a doctor might refer a patient to a specialist - they don't know everything, that's because they're not press gallery journalists!

  • "The rebate process actually takes a few seconds, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story?" - any proof for that Jason? A five-minute visit to a harried GP makes you more of an expert than an experienced doctor heading her professional association? The challenge is on Jase to come up with "a good story", and this isn't it

  • The idea that a pharmacist concluding a retail transaction takes less time than a doctor conducting a physical examination - duh! It takes a press gallery journalist to point this out.

After all that comes this telling piece - and as with all Koutsoukis articles, you have to hunt to get the good oil -
The most telling moment, though, came midway through the question and answer session when Capolingua was asked to name the three things she wanted to see most from both major political parties in the run-up to the election.

Three months out from polling day, Capolingua — the head of the peak medical organisation in the country — actually started stammering.

She finally managed to mumble a few platitudes, but the damage was done. The truth is that, apart from more money in doctors' pockets, the AMA doesn't actually know what it wants.

The Australian Medical Association seems to be pretty clear about what it wants, if you do a bit of research. However:

  • Perhaps, in the theatre of a press conference, practiced professionals wrongfooted an unpracticed speaker. This just means you do a bit of research to put this in context, which might excuse any snarks about the head of a major lobby group not being media-savvy.

  • Maybe Capolingua has a stammering problem - what proportion of the population does it affect, how is it treatable, etc.

  • She may have been fearful of offending Abbott, with whom she shares Catholic ideological issues on healthcare.

  • This isn't three months out from polling day - it's three months from when you guess polling day might be. You have no intellugence in this and you should admit it to a readership who wrongly trusts you

  • Governments are sensitive to criticism at the best of times but at a time when the government can't take a trick, Capolingua understandably didn't want to be seen piling on.

That said, Capolingua should have rattled off a list of objectives from her recent election to the head of the AMA.

A press gallery journalist would have wondered why this is the first AMA President in a long time who hasn't put the boot into the government, and what they'd hope to gain by a tactic they haven't tried before: snuggling down into the minister's pocket. How will that tactic impress the Abbott's successor as Health Minister, and what implications will that have for Capolingua, the AMA and health policy generally?

There's also the issue of Australia having too few doctors generally (let alone those who don't instantly recognise the Koutsoukis name - "you any relation to that try-hard who takes up space in The Age?"), and of deporting those fitted up by a silly government - but more on that later.

Once again, I have to do Jase's "work" for him - in this, my 101st post on this blog.

1 comment:

  1. When I came to Australia in 1962 I was told there there were not enough doctors in Australia. And every year since I have heard this. But i rapidly found that if you were a doctor you had to buy a job. That medical negligence in the tonsillectomy etc ( "We can do everything" was often stated) line was the rule.
    Then come comrade woodridge they tried to get rid of doctors even though "there are not enough doctors" was still chanted.
    Luckily for me I retired in 2003.
    There are lots of GPs around but they are often of indifferent quality. But that is what you get when there is no competitive market.