Health care is being left to the “death spiral” as the cost of caring for Australia’s elderly is spiralling, according to health care workers.
“Our costs are spiralling at a very high rate,” said a senior Australian dental practitioner, who requested anonymity to discuss the internal workings of the industry.
The healthcare sector, which provides more than $6 billion a year in services to Australians, is “fiercely competitive” and “there is a death spiral,” he said.
A high proportion of the people who have visited Australia in recent years are still using Medicare and private insurance to fund their care.
“The numbers that are going up are not necessarily the people that are being treated.
It’s just the ones that are dying,” he told the ABC.
Dental and medical services are being prioritised, but the industry is “frustrated” and understaffed, the senior provider said.
“You are seeing some patients dying, and that’s just a consequence of the death spiral.”
The shortage of dental and medical professionals in Australia is a result of the fact that the government has “made it clear to the health sector that it does not have the manpower or the resources to continue the health care delivery system that we have,” the dental practitioner said.
The Health Services Union has urged the government to increase the number of dental practitioners in Australia.
“[The] Government is not providing the manpower to get the job done,” union president Rob Kowalski said.
He said he believed there was a “lack of interest” in dental services in the country.
“If we really want to provide the best health services to our people, and the best care for our patients, we need to make dental and health care more accessible to them,” he added.
The dental profession has said it is committed to maintaining a “high level of professionalism” and maintaining a high level of funding.
But the lack of dental staffing has led to a “death” spiral, said the dentist, who has worked in the health system for 15 years.
“When you look at the numbers that we are seeing in our practice, it’s a very, very, high proportion,” he explained.
“We have over 60 people coming in to us every week, and we have a mortality rate of around 10 per cent.”
So we are at a point where we’re not getting the staff that we need, and if we don’t get the staff we need now, then there’s going to be a death.