A new survey showed that Australian surgeons spend 60 per cent of their time working in private hospitals. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons today said restricted operating times, a lack of equipment and a shortage of both beds and nurses were driving surgeons out of public hospitals. The collage president Russell Stitz said at the Annual Scientific Congress in Sydney that many surgeons have lost interest in working for the public system.
He explained that surgeons love to operate and they get a great kick out of making people better, which they do in a large percentage of cases. But the continuous restricted operating times, practise of closing the operational theatres for longer than necessary during holiday periods, and by not paying bills for essential equipments, is making the surgeons not being able to operate, and this added to not enough beds and not employing enough nurses is driving them from the public system, he said.
Dr Stitz said there were currently not enough surgical training places to meet future demand, which is expected to increase by 50 per cent in the next 20 years. He further added that the private sector offered limited opportunities for training surgeons. And this Dr Stitz warned is raising an alarming need to answer the doubt of who is going to be left to train for surgery in the future.
He stated that the Public hospitals needed to be adequately resourced and these resources need to be used efficiently to treat more patients and provide adequate training for future surgeons. He felt that there is a need for a bureaucracy, which is orientated towards health solutions, rather than balancing budgets at the expense of patient care. Dr Stitz called on state and Federal Government to immediately introduce 120 more training positions so that the waiting times for essential surgery could be reduced.
The president of the Orthopaedic Association George Sikorski said that the surgeons are also tired of working for a health system that is too focussed on budgets rather than patient care. He is of the opinion that the public health administrators must be properly trained in health care to ensure that medical staff are encouraged to continue working in the sector. Stating that the current administration have lost their clinical focus, he said that they are increasingly being looked after by people who are not medically trained and whose loyalties are in fact to their own administrative structure rather than to the patient.
Earlier this year, a survey conducted by the college found almost half of Australia's surgeons were aged over 55 and planned to retire within 15 years. Dr Stitz said that they need 120 more surgical training positions immediately as an ageing population will mean more surgeons will be needed within the next decade. Explaining that there is an urgent need to increase the number of surgeons by about 50 per cent over the next 20 years, as amount of surgery they will need to do will also increase. He warned that unless they increase those surgical positions now they'd not have the capacity to increase the number of surgeries.