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Author Archives: Ian Webster
It is with bewilderment and concern we watch as COVID-19 overwhelms the UK’s health and social systems. There are lessons to be learnt for Australia, too.
Behind our backs, public health became the poor cousin of biomedicine and was dismissed as ‘drains and sewerage’. How wrong we were!
This is a time when advice needs to be considered, balanced, respectful and well-founded.
The idea that the pressures of patient care cause doctors to withdraw from direct clinical work has been in the background of my observations of my colleagues and their work since the 1970s.
It is a loss powerfully felt,but subdued. Not by politicians or the alcohol industry, but by doctors and nurses in the clinics and rehab. centres. The highly respected Michael Thorn has departed from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education(FARE) … Continue reading
Two ABC documentaries – ‘Opioid America’, Foreign Correspondent, 19th March and on TV Tonight, Louis Theroux, April 2nd portrayed the cycle of addiction in damaged US communities with no hope or future. Both were in West Virginia where opioid deaths … Continue reading
Beyond the image of the vagabond and the impaired bodies and minds of homeless people there are untapped veins of intellect and potential; this is where our focus should be. “The homeless are our most important dreamers, prophets and poets … Continue reading
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have got it right when they frame the conditions we label as mental illness as issues of social and emotional well-being. They do not consider the endemic problems in their communities, as mental illnesses.
The 10th September is recognised as World Suicide Prevention Day. “The burden of suicide does not weigh solely on the health sector; it has multiple impacts on many sectors and on society as a whole. Thus, to start a successful … Continue reading
In the final analysis, drug policy based on prohibition fails to meet the test of fairness and justice in the lives of those most directly affected.
Each year two thirds of applications for a Disability Support Pension are rejected; a rejection rate which has doubled in 8 years (Christopher Knaus, Guardian, 8 June 2018).
To save $204.7 million, the Government plans to impose draconian sanctions on those needing income support who miss appointments, or work interviews, or who don’t take up the jobs proposed for them. That can’t be the real reason, since the … Continue reading
Mental health problems arising out of modern despair have to be tackled with insights gained from the day-to-day lives of society’s outcasts and the social sciences. Matthew Fisher, (Australia’s policy failure on mental health, Pearls and Irritations, 14 December 2017) … Continue reading
The social harm of alcohol, alcohol’s ‘harm to others’, is a re-vitalised framework for national and international policies to control the marketing of alcohol.
Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary in the UK, accused Stephen Hawking of a ‘pernicious lie’: “(he) is a brilliant physicist but wrong on lack of evidence.” Stephen Hawking had said his survival for 75 years with motor neurone disease was due … Continue reading
John Menadue and Peter Brooks have mounted powerful critiques of private specialist medical practice in a series in Pearls and Irritations. The nub of their positions is the high fee structure in (private out-patient) specialist practice is out of kilter … Continue reading
To those who work in the health system, ‘ICE’ is but one problem among many and pales into the background of the prevailing problems of addiction and misuse of alcohol and drugs.
Anne Deveson’ s media presence spearheaded the media’s involvement in public health and mental health. She contributed at so many levels – social commentaries and documentaries -which challenged our sensibilities.
Marketing of alcohol is out of control. 20% of those watching major sporting events on TV are under the age of 18 years.
Fair access to health care is in the zeitgeist of European countries and Australia. The political sensitivities of this issue were demonstrated in the last election with the angst generated by the Labor Party’s “Mediscare” campaign.
Speaking particularly of the treatment people in Manus and Nauru, Professor Ian Webster argues that in this secular and chaotic world, the values and principles of the professional codes of health workers could be used to frame their future contributions … Continue reading
This week our PM, Malcolm Turnbull, was admonished when he gave $5 to a homeless man in Melbourne. He was sorry if people thought he should not have done this. He said, “I felt sorry for the guy”….”there but … Continue reading
From his experience in intensive care in one of Australia’s busiest intensive care units at Liverpool Hospital in Southwest Sydney, Professor Ken Hillman describes the failure of specialised, super-specialised, medicine to deal appropriately and humanely with seriously ill aged … Continue reading
A categorical mistake: Is bulk-billing a reliable indicator of access to GPs? Where I work in regional NSW, patients have difficulty finding a GP who is prepared to bulk-bill them for their medical care. The phone call to the … Continue reading
John Menadue said in the NSW Health Council Report of 2000, “Services should be based where patients and consumers live. The autonomy and dignity of each patient is best serviced by providing services wherever possible outside hospital. So a shift … Continue reading
At the centre of the drug problem is the problem of psychic and physical pain People with mental illness turn to alcohol and drugs to lessen their distress. When adolescents and young adults use a substance to ameliorate their social … Continue reading
“If we wish to annihilate the junk pyramid, we must start at the bottom of the pyramid: the addict in the street, and stop tilting quixotically for the higher-ups so-called, all of whom are immediately replaceable. The addict in the … Continue reading
Michael Thorn is right; the ICC Cricket World Cup was an alcohol-drenched event (SMH Tuesday, 31st March 2015). Cricketers were once models of sportsmanship. There was even altruism and some became statesmen. Recall, “That’s simply not cricket.” No longer, as … Continue reading