Saturday, September 15, 2012

Parking Tax protest shows how good we have it

Recently, the WA Branch of the Australian Nursing Federation felt that it was necessary to start protesting about the rise of parking costs in many of Perth’s hospitals and this got me thinking about our health system and standard of living.

The ANF and those it represents feel that the increases in what it costs to park your car in a privately run car park at work is completely outrageous and a total abomination.

While it is annoying having to add another mundane item in your weekly budget, I feel that this campaign shows how lucky we are in Western Australia, where the price of parking is all a trade union can campaign about.

In other parts of the world they are not so lucky to have even the most basic equipment, medicine or trained staff. In many places access to cars to drive to work or medicines or employees to sit with patients who are confused and elderly (to ensure their safety) are simply not available.

I am sure that many nurses and doctors from developing countries would love to have nothing to protest about except what it costs to park their car.

In Ghana for example, one story was told of a lady being left to give birth in the open and without professional nursing assistance. It is common in Ghana for there not to be any permanent medical and nursing staff at healthcare posts and limited access to the most basic of medicines and laboratory services.  

The Democratic Republic of Congo is another country where funding the recent civil war has replaced maintaining the health system and ensuring that its citizens are healthy enough to lead productive lives.  

An article in Britain’s Financial Times (September 15, 2009) reports that 2006-2007 alone, children accounted for 47% of all those who died, although they only constitute only 19% of the total population.

I could go on and write about every country who  is unable able, for whatever reason, to provide a functional healthcare system but I am sure you get the picture.  

It’s just a little disappointing that those who take part in the protests (and Australian society in general) don’t take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture.

In same way that when I overheard a visitor tell a patient in hospital where I work that he thought the WA health system was Third World. I wanted to ask them if they had actually been to any developing country and on what evidence where they basing their comparison.

How could anyone say that a large government owned and operated (for now) hospital in Western Australia is of “third world standards"?

With 900 million people not having enough money to access to clean drinking water, let alone access to basic medical care (J Braithwaite, date unknown) such as GPs and midwives shows how people in the developing world have to struggle to visit a doctor or vaccinate their children.

The price of medication doesn't help either. Many of the medications available to these people are patented by for-profit companies in the West which makes them more expensive and out of reach for most people living under 2.8 million living under two dollars a day and the millions more living just above that.

I think those in Western Australia are incredibly fortunate to be able to access a hospital system where so much is provided for.

For example, three meals a day are guaranteed to be served; there is a ready supply of clean bed linen; rooms get cleaned everyday; there are physios, occupational therapists, social workers all trying to get patents ready to go home.

There are even welfare assistants to help patients and their families access government benefits (unheard of in developing countries) if you need it as well as contact utility companies if you are in hospital for longer than expected and need help to rearrange payment

You want to see a Chaplain for spiritual support? One will come to see you without questions, fees or charges.

Hardly sounds like a third world system to me but one that we have access to. Working in a hospital in a large Australian city after travelling in developing countries, I guess that I am more aware of how lucky we are.

Here in Australia we have such a great healthcare system and while it may not be perfect 100% of the time, we are so lucky that it is so much better than much of the developing world. The proof of standard of the Australian hospital system is this campaign by the Australian Nurses’ Federation against a parking tax and it is a shame that it is not more appreciated.


Anthony Kwaku Amoah. 16 April 2012. The plight of Ghana’s health posts. Accessed 15 September 2012

Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite. Date Unknown. Health Care Systems Accessed 20 September 2012.

Emma Pearson. September 15 2009. Congo’s crippled healthcare. Accessed 15 September 2012.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Should your barista be scared?

Over time, there have been inventions that have led some to argue that these new devices will change the way we have consumed things like movies, music and food.

For example videos were touted by some as the end of the cinema and cassette tapes (later CDs) were said to signal the end of people seeing live music. Even the microwave was promoted as the oven’s replacement.

Although as time has gone on we have seen that while all these items have not replaced the movie cinema, the live performance venue or the conventional oven but merely complimented the way we view films, listen to music and how we cook our meals.

What has this got to do with coffee?

With the rise of the home espresso machine see the end of the cafe and the barista who is skilled at pulling the perfect espresso shot that so many of us enjoy every day?

No, I don’t think so!!! Like everything else, our love of cafes will not stop because of the improvements in domestic coffee machines.
Having recently been given a wonderful Lavazza Modo Mido I have been thinking a little about how this lovely gift could affect my coffee consumption.

But I will always have a soft spot for my Bodum French Press as it has served me well over the years not to mention that it is easy enough to use at 5 am.  

However, I love my new Coffee machine with its retro style and lime green exterior. It also gives a great little espresso thanks to the easy to use pods. This swanky Lavazza (favourite coffee) machine and its little pods are actually not too bad and better than others on the market.

These pods are the new kids on the block; it is espresso coffee made easy.

This pod idea was made famous by George Cloony and the Nespresso Machine.  However, I fail to understand why people seem so excited by this product especially when it is average at best.

In Perth, a bag of Nespresso pods has become the “must have” accessory item. But for all the hard core coffee fans there is nothing that will get the eyes rolling more than a West Australian carrying a bag of Nespresso Pods like they are the epitome of coolness.       

Some might consider it cheating (in many ways it is) and for this reason that all the true baristas shouldn’t not be scared because while these pod things produce a visually great coffee nothing can replicate human skill.

While it is great that good coffee has been more accessible to domestic coffee drinkers, I don’t think drinking coffee at a cafe with your mates and dates will stop being popular.  

It's ok Mr Barista, we still love your work 

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