Procurement decision has us seeing red

The reason I don't have private health insurance is that, unless something really dire comes up, I know it is the Murraylands' public hospitals that will look after me if I get sick or do myself an injury.

Call me naive, but I find it comforting enough that they are there for me and my family in Murray Bridge, Mannum, Tailem Bend, Meningie, Karoonda and Lameroo.

I've had occasion to be grateful for the people who work there a couple of times – not for anything too drastic though, touch wood.

By comparison with family members who live in the United States and pay $500 a month for health insurance – because if you don't have the money over there, they won't treat you – I think we do pretty well.

Of course, our hospitals need all the support they can get.

They depend upon the efforts of volunteers and auxiliaries, and donations from the public to buy new equipment.

I'm not sure that's ideal, that a hospital should have to rely on people's generosity to purchase potentially life-saving gear.

It says something about the state of our health system.

But I suppose the alternative is higher taxes, which nobody really wants.

The point I'm gradually coming around to is that our hospitals and our towns have a symbiotic relationship: each depends on the other.

It would be a shame if that relationship were undermined by a decision such as the one my colleague Casey Gregory has written about on the front page of today's edition: hospitals may soon have to bypass local chemists and order pharmaceuticals directly from a bigger agency.

The resulting impact on local businesses, and potentially on health care in the regions, could be significant.

We have seen the same thing in other government departments: sometimes a drive to get value for taxpayers’ money overrules the common-sense need to keep that money circulating in the local economy.

The state government has spent the past year or two "Transforming Health" in Adelaide.

We could do with some transformation out here, too, of the beneficial kind.

If this decision has the consequences some fear, we must protest it.

Health Minister Jack Snelling, take note.

Peri Strathearn


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