Institutions are greater, or lesser, than the sum of their parts.
Evidence of that abounds and that can be found in the positive sense at Shepparton’s Goulburn Valley Health.
An institution is nought more than a collection of buildings and whatever appliances or fittings its particular pursuit demands, but it is the people who populate the institution, those who work there, who make it either ‘‘greater’’ or ‘‘lesser’’.
A recent visit to GV Health for a day procedure gave me ample time, and certainly a practical opportunity, to make a judgment — it was friendly, professional and efficient, putting the sword to any belief that public patients are afforded a lesser quality of care than privately insured counterparts.
Of course emerging from the experience with a good report immediately enhances such life events, but had the outcome been somewhat different, it would have been worse than mischievous not to acknowledge the kindness and friendliness of all.
The Shepparton hospital is most certainly a complex collection of parts and work has already started on a $169million refresh of the institution that will make it even more labyrinth-like, but at the same time a more efficient workplace.
Health care and its associated social assistance is Shepparton’s largest employer and with the broad smiles of helpful and conscientious people being the practical recognition of the broader management at GV Health, we should be celebrating our hospital.
The idea of public health, as we see it at GV Health, is as it should be with each of us willingly opening our wallets to ensure health care is there for all our fellows, and ourselves, at minimal or no cost making the private health insurance industry irrelevant and unnecessary.
However, what we have in Shepparton, as is the case across Australia, is entangled in perverse machinations that have evolved over decades as the tentacles of the market economy have been allowed, almost welcomed, into the cash-rich veins of the health industry.
First, it should not be considered an ‘‘industry’’, rather it should be a service; a service whose aim is simply that of making those who use it, well again and not making those who work within it, rich.
Last week’s Four Corners program on ABC TV explored the problems of our burgeoning health industry and expeditiously avoided the ideological debate about private versus public, but was able to point toward to many private health patients who had been exploited with costs far exceeding what was expected.
Australia’s public health service is among the best and to keep it there and improve it even more, it seems that upon being elected to any state or federal parliamentary position, he or she who is elected should be required to immediately forgo whatever private health insurance they might have and so be forced to experience first-hand the public health service they are responsible for.
Considering life, it is mostly only personal experience that enables you to make any sort of worthwhile or useful judgement about the services upon which we depend.
Robert McLean is a former News editor.