Editor, The Times:
Re: Health Minister Terry Lake’s letter of July 21 (‘Health minister says teams are the future’):
Lake’s assertion that only 3.5 per cent of the health budget is being spent on bureaucracy is clearly wrong.
When I have enquired in recent years, I have been told more than 10 per cent of the regional health authority budget is being spent on bureaucracy.
This does not count all the head nurses who are so busy with meetings that they have essentially been co-opted into the bureaucracy. This also does not count the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Health in Victoria.
When I graduated from medical school in the 1980s, we were proud of the fact we spent only five per cent of the budget on bureaucracy, while the U.S. spent 15 per cent.
That was before the bloated and inefficient regional health authorities existed.
The 3.5 per cent Lake quotes would appear to be the Ministry of Health budget.
We should ask what we are getting for that money given the ministry seems to have downloaded all responsibility to the regional health authorities.
The few initiatives that come out of Victoria, such as Lake’s plan for team-based care, are typically poorly thought out and not based on proper consultation with those of us in actual practice.
If we add the ministry budget to regional health authority budgets, we are likely spending about 15 per cent on bureaucracy.
What a difference it would make if we were to return that extra 10 per cent to actual patient care.
We would be returning more than $1 billion, or over $200 per man, woman or child in the province.
Dr. Doug McFee