(fashion) Overworked health professionals fear Australia's health system has been hijacked by greedy insurance company bean counters who are hell bent on profiting off the sick.
Fearing a full-blown health crisis, one of the nation's top head and neck surgeons has broken ranks to warn of impending doom if health professionals' concerns continued to be ignored by those in charge.
Dr Elizabeth Sigston told Daily Mail Australia that Australia's health system had endured a 'slow slide' into turmoil over the past 15 years and threatened to go the way of the United States and United Kingdom health systems.
Dr Elizabeth Sigston believes Australia's health system is driven by profit, not by health care
Medical professionals are being overworked and are struggling with low morale as Australia's health system fails to invest adequately in its people
'We've been very lucky to have universal health care with Medicare ... but we're sitting on a tipping point where it's being forced almost into a managed care model, which is the US model, which we know doesn't work,' she said.
'It is driven by profit, not by health care. We also know a National Health Service model doesn't work if we look at what the UK has done in trying to privatise the NHS - it has been a complete disaster.'
Dr Sigston said evidence suggested Australia's aging population would only add pressure to Australia's already over-worked health professionals.
'Our health care system is struggling. Our emergency departments are over burdened ... people are being kept in corridors, our emergency physicians are struggling,' she said.
'If you want to be seen in a public outpatient, certainly at Monash Health (in Victoria) the wait is two years or longer for most patients.'
While Australians vent their anger across social media on long waiting lists, those working in the health system are themselves falling apart.
'We're seeing our medical and health care workers facing burnout rates that have been unprecedented and there is an increased disengagement of the work force in public health with low morale and at the same time we're still seeing people who when they want to go private have their out-of-pocket expenses continue to rise.'
Dr Sigston said while great medical facilities continue to be built, there is no actual money to run them.
A hospital ward at Liverpool Hospital, Sydney. A top surgeon fears Australia's health system is being taken over by health insurers which care more about profits than health outcomes
While medicare came as a welcome addition to Australia's health system, funding is not going to the right places, doctors fear
Dr Elizabeth said Australia needed to embrace a 'value health care' model where the patient's health outcome is measured over the course of an illness.
'Victoria is a classic example. The government has now formally let people know that we actually don't have money to run our hospitals but we keep building new ones,' she said. 'We need to do something radical.'
Dr Sigston said while funding is being provided, it it failing to be spent wisely.
'We're having an increase load through the emergency department because we're not focusing on the areas where we could actually be reducing that,' she said.
The surgeon said the key issue with Australia's health system was that it's measures have nothing to do with health.