WA News Doctor Polls
Poll Results
Chronic Disease Management - March 2015

Our surveyed doctors (n=189; 56% GPs, 34% Specialists, 10% DIT and Other) are very strong supporters of self-management of chronic ill health, and most believe this will lead to better health outcomes

Q Patients with chronic diseases are encouraged to self-manage more – problems like asthma, diabetes, arthritis, etc.

Do you think this is important?
Yes               93%
No                  3%
Uncertain       4%


Q Under current circumstances, is more self-management likely to lead to better health outcomes?

Yes             57%
No               19%
Uncertain    24%

 

Q Is this change in emphasis just political ‘code’ for not enough resources to go around?

Yes              39%
No                37%
Uncertain    24%

 

ED. To summarise, our surveyed doctors (n=189; 56% GPs, 34% Specialists, 10% DIT and Other) are very strong supporters of self-management of chronic ill health, and most believe this will lead to better health outcomes. Interestingly, about half with an opinion on this, suggest the self-management agenda is driven by a growing scarcity of resources for health consumers.

Patients with chronic diseases are encouraged to self-manage more – problems like asthma, diabetes, arthritis, etc.

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Responding to Complaints about Doctors - Feb 2015

There were 189 respondents to our February e-Poll (56% GPs, 34% Specialists, 10% DIT and Other), all within the six-day window.

Q Complaints against doctors are handled by the Medical Board, AHPRA and the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office. Which of the following statements best describes your position? [Multiple choice]

43% - My knowledge of 'who' investigates 'what' is poor, should a complaint be made against me.   
20% - Complaint handling is influenced in ways I am opposed to.   
15% - I prefer to worry about this when or if it ever happens   
15% - I am confident that the handling of a complaint against me to any of these three bodies will be handled fairly.       
7% - None of the above.   

ED. Interestingly, an identical percentage of GPs and Specialists (just under half) admitted to poor knowledge of the complaints system, but with only a minority of both groups (about 17%) confident in the fairness of complaint handling by the current bodies. More Specialists (29%) than GPs (21%) say they oppose some influences on complaint handling, and more GPs (20%) than Specialists (6%) say they prefer to worry about things when and if it happens.

 I believe a very important role of AHPRA and the Medical Board should be to [single choice]:

85% - Protect the interests of both consumer and doctor.   
10% - Protect the doctor against vexatious complaints.      
3% - Protect the health consumer.  
2% - None of the Above.   

ED. While the vast majority of doctors thought AHPRA and the Medical Board had a dual role in protecting health consumers and doctors, more GPs (13%) than Specialists (6%) selected the protection of doctors against vexatious complaints as very important.

Do you think those approved to investigate or report on other doctors should be revealed to doctors at large, prior to their appointment?

Yes    71%
No      11%
Uncertain   18%

ED. This gets interesting. Currently, there is no transparency on this issue, whereas nearly three quarters of doctors say there should be (with nearly 20% uncertain in giving their opinion). Specialists were more adamant about this (80%) than GPs (69%).

Currently, around 85% of notifications to the Medical Board and AHPRA are dismissed, 35% of investigations take over six months, and 1-in-20 doctors are subject to complaints every year. Is this situation fair and reasonable, all considered?

Yes    20%
No      46%
Uncertain    34%

ED. Given that “notifications” to the Medical Board and AHPRA are of the more serious type, that is, capable of damaging someone’s health, we feel that if more respondents were aware of this definition, then the >2:1 unhappiness ratio would be even higher. As about half of the respondents are fence sitters or in favour of the status quo, that opinion could change. With 1 in 20 doctors the subject of “notifications” each year, depending on their style of practice they may not have long to wait to shape an opinion. There was no significant variation in responses across craft groups.

Given that AHPRA and Medical Board activities are funded by professional registration fees, do you believe failed actions should be independently scrutinised and openly reported?
Yes    61%
No      18%
Uncertain    21%

ED. GP and Specialist responses were not significantly different. It is pretty standard practice for the use of subscribers’ money to be scrutinised. Given that AHPRA and the Medical Board are charged with protecting the public by nailing wayward doctors, their strike rate should be very high when it comes to expensive court action. And then there is the waste and anguish caused around doctors who have 85% of lesser claims against them dismissed. Registered doctors, who have watched their registration fees increase under national registration, have every right to query if a lot of lawyers, bureaucrats, and doctors are getting fat on their fees or if real demands on the system have increased.

 

 
Health Politics – Who Calls the Shots? - Feb 2015

There were 189 respondents to our February e-Poll (56% GPs, 34% Specialists, 10% DIT and Other), all within the six-day window.

Q Health matters are always in the news, whether State or Federal. How valued is your opinion in the political process when it comes to health matters? [Choose one response please]

33% Hardly ever valued.   
32% Not valued at all.        
22% No more valuable than anyone else.   
7% Uncertain.   
5% I feel my opinion is listened to and valued.   
1% None of the above.   

ED. GPs and Specialists thought much alike on this issue.

Q Are those who currently represent your craft group to politicians, effective agents for constructive change?

22% Yes   
45% No     
33% Uncertain  

ED. 10% more Specialists than GPs were pleased with their representative’s efforts, though twice as many thought representatives were ineffective agents of change, as supported them. Mind you, doctors were prepared to cut their representatives some slack (see next question).

Q What statement best describes your attitude to representatives of your craft group dealing with major health issues? [one response]

41% They do a fair job in difficult circumstances.          
26% Mostly, they do not represent my points of view.  
15% I pay to belong to a professional group and prefer to leave it to them.
7% I stay right out of medical politics.   
1% I don’t pay to belong but am mostly happy with what they come up with.   
10% None of the above.   

ED. Specialists were twice as likely (20%) as GPs (11%) to join a professional group to have their interests represented. About one quarter of both groups felt unrepresented, anyway.

Q What do you think are the greatest disincentives that prevent you communicating directly with relevant politicians? [Multiple choice]

My talking to politicians won’t change anything.    29%
Access to politicians is not easy.        24%
I don’t know how to or who to go to.  16%
I’m too busy.        15%
It’s all too hard.    9%
Other.    7%

ED. Anecdotally, lobbying by doctors over FSH has been effective, more so if electoral ramifications are pointed out. The big question is whether the lobbyists are promoting the greater good or protecting their own patch.

 

 
Noise Cancelling Headphones Nov - 2014

Both GPs and Specialists (n=146) didn’t think parents were keeping one step ahead of technology, which could impact on their children. 

Q Computer games and iPods are popular. In your experience, do most parents know that noise-limiting headphones protect their children's hearing?

Yes                             7%

No                              68%

Uncertain                   25%

 

 
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