The pressure’s on

In recent columns I have been addressing housing issues, health care and planning. I see a lot of people from Waterloo in my work, especially people who rely on public housing, and they are feeling pressured and stressed about the planned Waterloo Estate redevelopment.

At the same time, these people have many coexistent pressures – financial, social, familial and health-related.

There are many pressures in the health sector as well, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for frontline staff to deliver quality healthcare that is timely, accessible and affordable. The increasing age of the population and the burden of chronic and complex conditions exacerbates this situation.

This pressure is felt most acutely in our local hospitals due to chronic underfunding and over-administration. The rise in the measurement of “KPIs” (key performance indicators) has coincided with reduced access to services and basic care. This is not because the nurses, doctors and other frontline staff are not capable – they are in fact caring and skilled, but incredibly over-burdened.

Over the 20 or so years I’ve worked in Redfern, I’ve seen incremental losses of outpatient clinics, increasing waiting periods, shorter hospital stays and frequent readmissions.

I requested an urgent surgical review for a seriously unwell patient recently and they were mailed an appointment for 10 month’s time. A patient who lived alone was discharged from hospital even though they had lost the ability to walk and feed themself. These are just two examples of many.

Health services are struggling to deliver care to the current population; the NSW Government needs to seriously reconsider its plans to trigger growth in this area until there has been a massive injection of funds to improve service provision and amenity, before the developers move in.


Dr Marie Healy is a GP with interests in aged and chronic care, health promotion and planning.

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