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Snake oil and our “dearly beloved” departed leader


All of us make mistakes at times, and we all hold differing beliefs and, hopefully, respect each other’s varied views.
However, the ABC science program Catalyst went over the edge in its two-part program attacking the use of statins. As it is, the National Heart Foundation advises that more than a million Australians are missing the benefits of this medication.
As an avid ABC viewer and admirer of Catalyst, I was staggered to see such a lack of expertise and clear bias put to air. The Flat Earth Society and those who have recently seen Elvis alive would have more credibility than the experts produced, none of whom declared a conflict of interest despite actively marketing “alternative” therapies. Thankfully, the ABC tried to repair the damage when Media Watch went to air on Monday, 11 November,  and its presenter rightly pilloried the programs as misleading and biased.
Nevertheless, like all GPs, I have been deluged with patients alarmed at their therapy and questioning its value. Aussies already waste billions of dollars annually on unproven “snake-oil” remedies without the ABC crossing to this dark side of health care.
Kevin Rudd has departed politics, and one must pay tribute to his boundless energy and enthusiasm in seeking a better health care system. Certainly, his initial choice of Health Minister was less than wise as Nicola did not, I feel, share his grand vision for reform. As to whether the raft of changes he instituted will pay dividends, only time will tell.
Speaking of our now departed previous leader, the $2,000 cap on education tax deductibility is also now gone. Thankfully, the AMA led the charge on this and sank it, and any non-member with a conscience should get their hand out of their pocket and sign up. This change alone will more than cover their AMA membership subscription in perpetuity.
The Rural Medical Committee met in Sydney on 8 November, the highlight being a presentation by the NSW Rural Doctors Network on what they are doing to ease the rural workforce crisis. Certainly, their provision of walk in-walk out, fully-serviced practices in the most difficult locations is a solution that is working. Doctors given such facilities are staying longer, and recruits are easier to find, plus support staff are given certainty of tenure and ensure continuity for patients.
The Committee is now focussing on developing further policies for recruitment and retention, in both small towns with no hospital and larger towns with existing hospitals. Please let us have all your wisdom, wild ideas, dreams and solutions for these policy areas.
Also top of our agenda is working more closely with the Rural Doctors Alliance of Australia to renew the Rural Workforce Rescue Package and jointly lobby in Canberra for its implementation. Hopefully, with a strong parliamentary rural health champion in Assistant Minister for Health Senator Fiona Nash, opportunities will arise for solutions to be put in place with the Coalition in power.