Aussie doctors fume at last-minute public holiday for the Queen: 'Massive problem'

·3-min read

Doctors and healthcare professionals are warning about the devastating "domino effect" the short notice public holiday to commemorate the Queen's passing will have on vital care for Australians.

At a time when hospitals and healthcare services are under immense pressure around the country, the public holiday will throw an extra spanner in the works for staff and patients.

In the wake of the prime minister's announcement on Sunday, the president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Professor Steve Robson, took to social media to express his concern.

"Operations and lots of patient consultations booked that day, at a time when access is difficult.

"Thanks for dropping this at short notice," he tweeted in response to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

"An unanticipated public holiday will make it very difficult to staff hospitals and clinics."

Picture shows AMA's Professor Steve Robson who says the Queen's last-minute public holiday will cause problems.
Australian Medical Association AMA President Professor Steve Robson says the Queen's last-minute public holiday will cause problems for patient care. Source: AAP

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a South Australian GP with long-standing involvement in palliative care and patient services said it's a "massive issue" for the sector.

"We've had a lot of people who've had to rebook and all that. It's a huge problem, care still needs to happen.

"It's even worse for elective surgery because where do you move it? And in some cases these are cancer (treatments) or life-saving surgeries," he said.

"Where do you move them? Other people are booked in."

The GP, who wished to remain anonymous, said there will be a disruptive "domino effect" that will see critical care for some Aussies – already delayed during the pandemic – pushed back.

"It's a sad day in respect to the Queen, but one does wonder if the Queen would've wanted this," he lamented.

Doctors say there will be a disrupting
Doctors say there will be a disrupting "domino effect" to important care. Source: Getty

Due to earlier lockdowns and ongoing staff shortages in the healthcare sector, Professor Robson said in some cases patients could have been waiting years for specialised treatment.

"The short notice that’s been given for this public holiday will have ramifications for patients and of course an already struggling health system," he told The Guardian.

"Hospitals, surgeries, and general practices will have patients booked in for appointments and operations and some patients may have waited months or in some cases years for these appointments or operations."

Melbourne journalist Lucie Morris-Marr was among those who was caught off guard and left worrying about the status of her cancer treatment.

"Whilst I support the public holiday for Australia to mourn the Queen I’m probably one of thousands now fearing my cancer treatment will be cancelled on Sept 22," she tweeted on Sunday after the PM's announcement.

On Monday, she said her doctor would need to work on her day off to compensate.

"Unsurprisingly, I was told today all cancer treatment at my hospital has been cancelled for the sudden public holiday on Sept 22. My own treatment will go ahead the day before only because my lovely doctor will work on her day off, but this won’t be the same outcome for others."

While most Aussies will be relishing the extra day off work next Thursday, some employers have also hit out at the short notice public holiday.

Sydney small business owner Natalie Ferrari, 34, who runs a beauty salon said the holiday would cancel out the busiest day of the week for her customer's appointments.

"As if the current situation for small businesses wasn’t bad enough, now they want to throw a public holiday into the mix," she complained.

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