6 July 2021

What doctors REALLY think about the four-point plan

Back Page

The PM has been given a scorching takedown by some doctors over his details-free four-point plan to return Australia to normal.

Several doctors compared the Friday announcement to the intentionally meaningless four-stage plan proposed in the political satire Yes, Minister, and one doctor wondered if the scheme had been drafted by a Year 10 intern instead of the national cabinet. 

The Back Page invited doctors to send through this sizzling commentary this morning and decided to publish these quotes anonymously, so that contributors felt free to express their full feelings on the subject.

The following is a selection of the hottest takes, and a few dissenting opinions thrown in for good measure.

“Imagine walking into a code blue and saying ‘Airway, Breathing, Circulation’ and then just sitting back and looking smug.” – Queensland doctor

“When I saw the plan, I thought, ‘This is something a Year 10 work experience student would come up with’. It doesn’t tell us anything that isn’t bloody obvious. It has no timelines.” – Sydney specialist

“Sadly, a four-stage plan without a timeline, thresholds or targets is useless. Instead of continuing to enforce ‘Fortress Australia’, we need to engage people by demystifying vaccination with clear and decisive messaging.” – Sydney medical oncologist

“I asked myself why I have such a deep negative reaction to a particular leader’s media appearances. Is it the condescending tone? Is it the fake hypocrisy? Is it the self-centred hyperbole? Is it the lack of empathy and compassion? I respect them, but I sincerely struggle.” – Melbourne surgeon

“It is good that there is a plan – 18 months into the Australian outbreaks, it is a plan that one might have reasonably expected to have been announced as vaccination started in February, or even in 2020. The reluctance to refer to ‘targets’ has been similar to the Harry Potter-like fear to speak the name ‘aerosol’.  Referring to ‘horizons’ instead is pure political misdirection and unnecessary opacity. What doctors and public want is a ‘hard target’. A ‘horizon’ is an apparent line that can never be reached, whereas the modelling required to identify what might be a target for vaccination should have been widely available by the end of 2020.” – ACT doctor

“I’m still bewildered by the four-point plan.” – Sydney GP

“It’s more a whiteboard than a plan. It is absent any meaningful detail.” – Melbourne GP

“I think the four-point plan seems ok. Vaccination, as quickly and extensively as possible, is obviously the most important priority then everything else follows.” – Sydney rheumatologist 

“Getting complex health messages across to patients is hard. It’s very poorly suited to announcement-by-press-conference, which is how most of the outbreak is being run … Is it worse that the pandemic response is coming apart because the government is all spin and no substance? Or that they’ve always been like that and gotten away with it until lives were at stake?” – Queensland specialist

“It’s not a plan without numbers and goals. At the moment, it’s a vomit of weasel words made to distract from the incoming tsunami.” – NSW epidemiologist

“I have no words for what I think. There’s simply nothing to say.” – Melbourne psychiatrist

“Doctors are very slow at picking up anything new. We’ve all been in a huge mess with the changes to telehealth codes/Medicare giving wrong info and trying to get the billings sorted, so I think we are all focused on that more than the government announcement. (I just asked two doctors now if they had heard of the changes and they had no clue what I meant either). So, until those changes get sent by RACGP (newsGP) or PHN they don’t generally read medical updates.” – Queensland practice manager

“I think it’s disappointing and a copout that stranded Aussies are the scapegoats for the latest government bungle. Halving their numbers is a knee jerk reaction by politicians who don’t understand how this pandemic works.” – Sydney GP

“It’s not what I would call a plan, but an aspiration with no detailed plan of how we will achieve it. Step 1 is to vaccinate as many people as we can while we cut overseas arrival intake – sounds good, but how? We’ve been allocated 2.6+ million doses per week of vaccines in September. How much of this will be going into people’s arms? Most of this is allocated through primary care – we haven’t heard how the government will support this.” – Melbourne GP

“There was a clip from Yes Minister that was being shared around online that described a four-point plan as, first, nothing is going to happen, second, something may happen but we should do nothing about it, thirdly, maybe we should do something about it but there’s nothing we can do, and lastly, maybe there is something we could have done but it is too late now. The UK is moving to ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July where no one needs to wear masks. The US is headed the same way. We need a plan that has timelines that locks in recalcitrant premiers who have shown the whole way through that they will not hesitate to lockdown the state at the drop of a hat (with the exception of Gladys). Premiers don’t seem to care about the impact on families, mental health or Australians trapped overseas.” – Perth GP

“I had a positive reaction to the ‘four-point plan’ … I think what was said was obvious to all doctors, but apparently not to mainstream or social media … I think people angsting over Pfizer versus AstraZeneca are dealing with a first world problem.” – Sydney cardiologist

If you are experiencing four-point-plan-related rage or just need an update on WTF is going on, please drop me a line – felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au.

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