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Daily Archives: October 13, 2009

Two (on the face of it) stories of lack of imagination, even common sense

Well that’s how I react at first. What do you think?

1. Byzantine rules for overseas trained doctors

Many years ago a member of the subject’s family told me about a Vietnamese brain surgeon who could only get a job as a cleaner in a regional hospital in a large northern city. His former life became known to the hospital staff, so that when serious accident cases were brought in for whom flight to a major hospital in one of the capitals appeared life-threatening the cleaner was called in to perform the necessary surgery. Who knows how many lives that cleaner saved! Later he did qualify for practice in Australia.

Of course there is a good case for safeguarding local medical standards. What the procedures are you may find here, so long as the acronymomania doesn’t put you off: OTDs, FRACGP or FACRRM. How the system may be reformed is set out by the ATDOA.

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald we read of a Canadian “associate professor in Canada with 16 years’ clinical experience, [who] is now a senior lecturer in general practice at the Australian National University medical school.”

Her plight stems from a long-running dispute with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners over the recognition of her Canadian qualifications. She had been granted only provisional Medicare status because of the lack of the Australian qualification.

A spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health said the department had tried unsuccessfully to contact Dr Douglas yesterday to discuss options that would satisfy the rules and allow her to stay in Canberra.

”The department remains willing to discuss all available options,” the spokeswoman said. ”Medical practitioners working in academic positions may be eligible for a class exemption under section 19AB of the Act as there is a clear public interest in practitioners undertaking academic medical work.”

About 3000 overseas-trained doctors a year are granted temporary permits and provisional practising rights, mainly in places where doctors are scarce.

Nathan Pinskier, an adviser to Medicare on general practitioner issues, said he heard of cases similar to Dr Douglas’s every month, highlighting the need for changes to deal with the conflict between workforce and competency requirements….

Having applied for permanent residence she lost her provisional Medicare status, locking her out of the health care funding provisions.

2. Losing some of the best agricultural land in NSW

These days we are concerned about carbon footprints and the distances food has to travel before it reaches our tables, so it would seem to make sense to safeguard agriculture and horticulture in the Sydney basin and close regions like the Hawkesbury and Illawarra, with their long tradition of providing fruit, vegetables, dairy and other produce. Sadly much of the best land for these purposes has long been built over and continues to be built over. For some idea of what produce is involved see Agriculture – Statistics – Sydney (SD). (That site is no longer updated.) Hawkesbury producers have fought back in their own way.

Property developers have a rather different perspective.

PRESERVING the farms on Sydney’s fringe in the name of agricultural self-sufficiency will cripple the city’s growth, putting extra pressure on renters and home owners, a property developers’ lobby group says.

”The costs of that are further restrictions on our supply of new housing. Sydney has already seen over the past 10 years what happens when you don’t allow for adequate growth outward. Rents have gone up by 22 per cent in the past two years for three-bedroom houses,” said Aaron Gadiel, chief executive officer of the Urban Taskforce.

His comments follow revelations in a report by Peter Malcolm and Riad Fahd from the NSW Department of Industry and Investment that agriculture is shrinking dramatically in the Sydney basin and just 1050 vegetable farms remain.

The report recommended a review into whether these farms should be expanded to make the metropolis more self-sufficient in produce, but Mr Gadiel said that retaining existing agricultural land may not improve the carbon footprint of the city’s vegetable consumers…

However, the chairman of the NSW Farmers’ Association horticulture committee, Peter Darley, said that the city needed to retain its farms because they had a more reliable water source than those further west, especially during drought.

”You must also maintain food security close to your population base,” he said.

Sydney farmers can eliminate the ”middle man” because they are within 50 kilometres of the market, but if they moved further west, they would have to employ more people to move the produce, increasing the cost of vegetables, he said.

There have been attempts in the past to seriously decentralise, but all seem to have led nowhere.

Have we made a rod for our own backs?