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Canberra Today 7°/10° | Sunday, August 14, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Are the ‘sweatshops’ dehumanising doctors?

After an unhappy experience with telehealth, letter writer ROSS KELLY, of Monash, wonders if doctors “are being compromised by these corporatised group practices?” 

I LISTENED with interest when a recent radio news story reported that some GPs were seeking other employment due to a rising tide of patient hostility and attitude of “entitlement”. 

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Various explanations were offered, but there seemed to be no clear reason why this has emerged.

My experience with a telephone appointment at a Tuggeranong “doctor supermarket” may offer a clue.

The telephone appointment was booked for 11.40am. Fine. So I make sure I’m prepared with a few notes and my phone is at hand; 11.40am comes, and goes. Midday comes, and goes; 12.15pm comes, and goes…

At this point, I ring the practice (on another line to keep my mobile available) and am placed in an automated queue with recorded messages. Eventually, a receptionist tells me the doctor is backlogged, and I should still expect the call. And – I presume – a perfunctory apology.

At 12.35pm my mobile phone rings, I lunge for it… and somehow fumble the screen, dismissing the call! Darn! No worries, he’ll call straight back. But he didn’t. Apparently, that was my one chance and I blew it. No matter that I had waited nearly an hour; it was enough to try once and move on to someone else.

I called the practice again, and at 12.40pm I was finally on the line with my doctor. We spoke for just a few minutes, and new scripts were ordered. There was another matter I wanted to mention, but – in the absence of any apology or acknowledgement of what a one-sided cock-up the “appointment” had become – I found myself struggling to retain my composure, and so ended the call with only the basics covered.

The doctor seemed flat, robotic, and figuratively (as well as literally!) disconnected; rather as if resigned to just getting through the backlog and to heck with the pleasantries. 

I get that – and truly sympathise with the pressure he clearly feels. But the doctor-patient relationship requires those pleasantries; it requires that a psychological space be opened for niggling health concerns to be aired and questions asked.

I wonder if doctors are being compromised by these corporatised group practices? 

Is there pressure to keep their KPIs (key performance indicators) as healthy as their patients? Has general practice devolved into doctor “sweatshops”? 

Most crucially, is the current corporate model of delivering GP service dehumanising doctors who, a half-century ago, would have hung a brass sign out front of their own surgery and identified themselves more personally and more satisfyingly with the intimate and – ideally – respected service they provided?

Ross Kelly, Monash

Do we want Beijing as a sister city?

THERE are many reasons why I enjoy being a citizen of Canberra. However, recently I cringe whenever I return on a highway and see a sign proclaiming our sister cities. 

I have no problem at all with Nara and Dili, but the name Beijing conjures an image quite at variance with what Canberra represents. 

I doubt, with the possible exception of Pyongyang, that there could be a national capital with values more at variance to ours. 

I have a couple of questions for readers, please. Are there many people in Canberra who, like me, question the appropriateness of Beijing as a sister city for Canberra? Do we outnumber the apologists for the CCP in our midst? If most people feel it is time for a review of the sister city relationships, how do we get that ball rolling?

Alexander (Sandy) Duncan, Gungahlin

ACT government debt should be headline news

I FIND it astounding that the financial analysis by Jon Stanhope and Dr Khalid Ahmed (that shows that the ACT budget is in serious trouble and headed for insolvency) is not headline news on every ACT media outlet. 

Andrew Barr either has to stop discretionary spending or generate extra income. Much of the debt being incurred is flabbergasting given the significant additional income from greater values of stamp duty generated by increased property sales and increased rates income from increased land values.

Tom Brimson, via email 

Please end the arrogant tram shenanigans

I DO hope that the insightful, but depressing, article(s) researched by Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed and published in recent editions of “CityNews” have been sent to the federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers.

As Minister Chalmers has repeatedly stated, the Albanese government is looking at stopping the rorts, mismanagement of taxpayers’ money etcetera to help in paying for the trillion-plus debt inherited by the previous government.

If this TRULY is the case, then these articles should provide the Treasury with more than enough evidence of Canberrans having to endure the incompetent, arrogant Barr/Rattenbury shenanigans and hopefully put a stop to this blasted tram business that NO-ONE wants. Salaries paid to roo killers could also be on the drawing board for savings.

But who knows? Even if federal money is cut from the ACT territory’s share, Barr will just put us all in further debt! God forbid his precious, tram-loving ego take that blow on the chin!

Rebecca Henson, Hughes

Dead roos equals land development

THE cynics among us might even go further than “Seven Days” columnist Ian Meikle (“Stop crying in the chardonnay, Becs; kill weeds not roos”, CN July 14) and suggest that development is the main game and the massacre of the kangaroos is simply a means to that end. 

There have been numerous examples of developments being built directly after a kangaroo “cull” has finished. In past years, Googong, Lawson and Molonglo to name just a few. 

Each of these suburbs are up against nature reserves where kangaroos have been shot.

It’s not surprising then to find out the Federal Golf Course is proposing to build a 125-unit complex where the shooters have been killing the kangaroos.

On top of the egregious cruelty associated with brutally killing sentient beings, the (mostly deciduous) weeds Julie Lindner has highlighted will either die back in the winter or be poisoned by Parks and Conservation officials making them ripe fuel for wildfires, come the next El Nino event. Fire would annihilate any remaining conservation value on the nature reserves, leaving no reason not to rezone the land for further development.

Robyn Soxsmith, via email

Reviews Helen can’t get her teeth into

RESTAURANT reviewer Wendy Johnson has me either grinding my teeth or laughing my head off with her over-the-top descriptions. 

When she “worshipped” the duck liver pate at a Kingston eatery did she fall on her knees as an expression of gastronomic piety? 

What does she mean when she refers to food as “decadent”? Is it reaching its use-by date? 

The mind boggles at her “sexy sardines”; were they still alive and copulating on the plate? 

Sorry to be a sourpuss, but give me reviewers who describe what they’ve eaten in clear English, minus pretentious superlatives that do nothing to stimulate my appetite.

Helen Jackson, Higgins

Government is all talk and carbon dioxide

IN the July “Our CBR,” the Chief Minister says that the ACT leads the way on climate. He is almost correct.

The commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment found that in 2018 the NT led the way, with 45 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person. The ACT came second, with 35. The states were all below 30.

Ninety-four per cent of Canberrans’ emissions are caused outside the ACT, from sources such as transport, manufacturing and food production.

The commissioner made 12 recommendations to the ACT government about the other emissions that Canberrans cause. 

The government “noted” three of those recommendations, “agreed in principle” with eight (but without committing to implement them, and agreed to implement only one: “ACT government to work in partnership with state, territory and national governments to discuss initiatives to reduce scope 3 emissions across jurisdictions.”

The ACT’s “zero net emissions” targets apply only to the 6 per cent of emissions that occur within the ACT. As for the other 94 per cent, the government is all talk and carbon dioxide.

Leon Arundell, Downer

Stubborn, selfish collection of people

IN response to the never-ending stories of Housing ACT tenants not choosing to move, I would like to have my say, being a tenant myself.

I agree with Housing ACT in regards to relocating tenants.

The obvious point is that being (myself, a proud and respectful tenant) that Housing ACT is our landlord. If you rented privately and the landlord chose to sell, you would have to move on. Simple. 

There may be many exemptions that apply but in other cases it seems to be a stubborn, selfish collection of people, 60-plus, who seem to think they’re entitled to continue to live in these three/four bedroom homes forever on a small rent of 25 per cent of income.

As far as memories, they exist in one’s heart, mind and soul, and in photos.

I know of three people living in three-bedroom homes by themselves, the gardens unkempt and the houses inside disgusting.

On the other hand, I also know four people who have been located into beautiful homes and are extremely grateful for the help of Housing ACT. 

Money for housing does not grow on trees. Be like me and other tenants (and that is what we are) and allow Housing ACT to make some money, sell off old stock and create more homes for the more than one thousand people on the waiting list.

S Picker (Mrs), Ainslie

Calming Nick’s untamed tennis talent

IN her article “Weary Nick ducks promise to return to top tennis” (CN July 14) Belinda Strahorn cites the opinion of local clinical psychologist Jason McCrae, who says Nick Kyrgios has a “me against the world” aggressive attitude and lacks consistency in his game.

That may be true, but I see it also, and perhaps more importantly, as a problem of loss of concentration caused by outbursts of anger. Swearing at umpires and people in the stands, including members of one’s own support team, and smashing racquets is not a recipe for winning matches against formidable opponents such as Novak Djokovic. It takes one’s attention away from the task at hand.

Nick would do well to emulate Roger Federer, the true gentleman of professional tennis, who remains calm and polite no matter the circumstances. I read some years ago that Roger was a “spoilt brat” when he was a much younger player, but his former coach Peter Carter “brought serenity” to Roger’s game.

Perhaps Peter Carter, or Roger himself, could instil calmness and concentration into the prodigious but untamed talent of Nick Kyrgios.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin


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