I share a letter from a reader
I’m a 59 year old woman and because I had a hard time with my cancer I am unable to work or do many things that I used to be able to do. I don’t have breast cancer anymore but still need help. I had been signed up for a care coordination services at my doctor, a woman came and talked to me and my doctor and told me all the benefits like someone to take me to my hospital appointments, assistance in finding specialists and access to services like optometry, podiatry and pain management. Two weeks later I had an appointment at the hospital and I asked my doctor to arrange for the people to take me to the appointment, there was some confusion as the doctor thought I had to do that, I thought the surgery did it as I had no contact details. Turned out that the doctor hadn’t been given a card or anything as to who to contact. The receptionist found the paper work and it had a contact number and the name of the woman. The call was made and the people in the team wanted to speak to me, so I took the phone, I explained who I was and that ….. had come to my doctors surgery and signed me up to this program and that I needed help to get to an appointment in town at the hospital. They took my name and number and said they would call back.
A couple of days later and I hadn’t heard from that mob so I called them. I told this other woman the background and she listened and asked me what date and time was my appointment, she said that she would check the diary and see if anyone is available but that priority goes to clients of ….. and …. ( Aboriginal Medical Services). I asked why they came to my doctor if they aren’t going to help me? A couple more days and I still didn’t know if I had transport to the hospital or not and I called them again. I spoke to a different person and told them how I was signed up and I need help with an appointment coming up soon and I didn’t know if they were going to take me or not, this one told me that someone would be able to take me to my appointment, that it was in the diary and took my address. I was relieved that I had a way to get to the hospital and thought that was that.
On the day of my appointment a lady came and identified herself as ….. from….., and asked if we could sit down and have a chat before going to the appointment. She told me about the local community transport and gave me a flyer for them asking me if I had used them and recommended that give them a try when I needed transport. I asked … to explain to me the care coordination, she gave me a pamphlet and told me it was part of the closing the gap and it was for Indigenous clients who have major chronic illness and she told me what the other lady said at the doctors surgery. So I asked her if it offers me this, can she help me get glasses and I need to see someone about my feet and I need access to the pain management clinic. She told me that if I went to the AMS I could get those services there. I told her I was happy with my doctor and can she help me find the services I need and help with the transport. She told me priority was given to AMS clients and that it would be better for me to change doctors as it would make things easier for me.
I explained I like my doctor and I’m not changing to the AMS as too many gossips and everybody wants to know your business and they got no shame with wanting to dorry. I asked her about the pain management clinic and said I really need it, she told me to ring around to some places and to get back to her. She told me to go to one of the optometrist places in the local shopping centre and that medicare gives everyone a free eye test and that all the shops have a range of glasses that are free for medicare. She told me to ask my doctor if he could recommend a podiatrist and that if I tell them I’m on a CCSS package and to ask them to bulk bill me. I asked her what she is supposed to do, she said she helps with transport and organises appointments and helps with all the services. She told me to change my doctor and at the AMS things would be easier for me and it would be in my own best interest to sign on.
I don’t like being told what I should do, if a service is there funded by the government to help me, this mob should be doing that, not telling me to change doctors to make their work easier. If they have free glasses and shoes and medical aids at the AMS under this package, then they should have them for the clients who don’t go to the AMS. That is discriminatory to treat people like that. You shouldn’t be able to do that, it’s government money to help people like me, so they should be using it and doing their job, not expecting private patients to do it for them. Why do they go around to doctors surgery signing on people that they have no intention of helping.