Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights



  • Access – a right to access health care.
  • Safety – a right to receive safe and high quality health care.
  • Respect – a right to be shown respect, and to be treated with dignity and consideration.
  • Communication – a right to be informed about services, treatment, options and costs in a clear and open way.
  • Participation – a right to be included in decisions and to make choices about your health care.
  • Privacy – a right to privacy and confidentiality of your personal information.
  • Comment – a right to comment on your health care, and to have your concerns addressed.

Click on the links above to find an expanded explanation of what each of the seven sections guarantee.  For instance, among other things, you will find that the Right of Access means you have a right to be treated as your medical condition requires, regardless of your ability to pay, or whether you have private insurance.  This is an important and valuable right.  Not all countries have this type of system.  In some countries you have to have medical insurance or you will be billed.  This makes poor people consider whether they should seek emergency health care or struggle through.  Some people seek medical care but then cannot pay the bills.  Some people feel forced to give a false name to avoid paying the bill because they have no ability to pay it.  In Australia, you can attend your public hospital and receive free, first class health care.

For me, the right to participation and the right to comment is vital.  I am a great believe in patient advocacy whereby the patient does ask questions and gets them answered.  If the patient is too ill, I believe they should have someone delegated to do this for them.

You may think that, in this day and age, this is of little concern.  Eight years ago in a certain city in regional Australia, I ended up suddenly in a private hospital.  The specialist attending me was a doozy.  Turned out that everyone in the hospital loathed him.  The practice he belonged to employed a counsellor to attend the patients of the practice.  I suspect that this was to smooth over any problems caused by this particular specialist.  I was dreadfully ill but managed to ask a question to be told that it was for him to know.  This fellow was certainly hiding behind the door the day bedside manners were handed out!  So please believe me when I say that knowing this right is open to you to claim is important and vital. 

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