I confess that I do get depressed on public holidays such as the Queen’s Birthday! But this is not due to some personal disaffection with the Queen. The reason is that, it is getting harder and harder to enjoy some forced and unwarranted holidays and survive with $300,000 per annum.
On those kind of forced holidays, not only I can’t make a living, yet, all the recurrent costs of my practice still have to be paid for.
The $300,000 income is the figure that was bandied around last year, as the average GP income by the previous labour health minister Tanya Plibersek.
The recurrent costs as we know swallow up nearly 60 % of any GP’s income and they cover the usual costs of running a medical practice including light and power, stationary, accounting, insurance, registration and membership fees and of course the staff wages and their Queen’s birth day holidays and so on.
Of course what that minister did not also mention then, was that out of that illusive amount (for some of us), the GPs not only have to spend on the above-mentioned recurrent costs, but also have to fund their own holidays and superannuation and similar entitlements as the politicians and others take for granted.
When you compare what is left of $300,000, it is hardly much more than a junior politician’s perks alone.
However as this point was not made very clear to the public by the powers be and the AMA machine then, it is perhaps one of the reasons that has led to the ongoing misconception on the part of the liberal health ministers that there is still a lot of fat that could be trimmed from the GPs’ incomes.
Although, as an editorial put it, a battle was recently won by the GPs to force withdrawal of some planned cuts to Medicare rebates, there are more cuts on the way that have not been implemented yet. For example the cut to Medicare rebates for population with no concession entitlements is still very much on the cards and the CPI indexation for medical income has been frozen until 2018 and already put in concrete.
Despite self-congratulations on the part of the AMA for helping defeat some planned cuts, the reality is that the government’s attacks on the medical profession is unrelenting. In other words although a battle has been won the real war is still on.
Until this war is won, I will therefore will not be looking forward to another Queen’s birth day or similarly forced holidays.
However now that AMA has had the recent experience of handling some government machinations, the hope is that they will not let their guards down, as GPs and medicos in general, still look like fat cats in the eyes of a government with some sharp instruments in its claws.
As for benevolent-sounding idea of cutting rebates to fund some Medical Research Future Fund, it is very likely that, that plan, if it ever takes off, will go the way of similar science funding in public institutions and then the multinational pharmaceutical companies reaping the benefits of such investments.
Medical Observer; Dr Tony Marshal; 28/01/2015