For better or worse – is a doctor the only solution?

Do people want to see a doctor when they are sick or injured?

In collaboration with The Drum, The Conversation is giving statements made by public figures the fine-tooth-comb treatment they deserve.

Today, healthcare:

“When people get sick or injured or want advice about their health, they want to see a doctor.” - Dr Andrew Pesce, AMA President

Here’s what five leading academics made of Dr Pesce’s claim:

Glenn Salkeld, Professor of Health Economics, University of Sydney:

“The citizen-turned-consumer will seek information on what to do from the most trusted and knowledgeable source at a price they can afford. And that source is always a doctor – right? Not quite. For a start, not everyone can afford to see a doctor, at least one that is accessible. What do you do if a doctor is not available? You substitute the next best health professional.” Read the full article.

Peter Brooks, Director of the Australian Health Workforce Institute, University of Melbourne:

“Perhaps the biggest problem with a doctor-centred health system is its lack of economic sustainability. Health is expected to consume around 20% of Australia’s GDP by 2020-2025. If we don’t want medical costs to skyrocket we need to look at solutions. We need to examine the role of the doctor and work out what elements of healthcare need to be managed by doctors, and what can be done by other, appropriately trained professionals.” Read the full article.

Lisa Nissen, Associate Professor of Pharmacy at University of Queensland:

“If patients can’t get in to see their GP for a repeat prescription, pharmacists can’t dispense the patient’s regular contraceptive pill, adjust their dose of warfarin and replenish the medication supplies of recently discharged hospital patients. There is clearly scope to better utilise pharmacists’ medication expertise to take on more of the prescribing load from GPs.” Read the full article.

Jon Jureidini, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide:

“Doctors make potentially great therapists because medical training teaches them to maintain equanimity and good judgment in the context of trauma, cruelty, despair and death. It equips them to help patients to develop coherent and cohesive stories about their complex and confusing experiences. But psychiatrists are not the only ones who can do this.” Read the full article.

Catherine Hungerford, Endorsed Nurse Practitioner and Assistant Professor of Nursing at University of Canberra:

“I’m more than happy to see a Nurse Practitioner if the problem seems pretty simple. I know my body, I know my family – and most of the time we don’t need high-powered technical skills or complex medical treatment. Sometimes I hear people say, "But what if the nurse misses something? They are ‘only nurses’ after all!” My response? Consider our education and experience, and then decide.“ Read the full article.

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