Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Why do we need 'big'?

What is wrong with small?
The Rudd government has just announced plans for super-size health clinics to be rolled out across the country. Now, instead of going to see your GP, you can go to a super-size health clinic. You can see someone who will be able to deal with your particular problem immediately. You will be able to save time. You will get better faster. Perhaps.
I have a view of an endless lne of assorted ill people being fed into a machine. All sorts of unspeakable things happen inside the machine. At the other end you are unceremoniously dropped out. If you bounce you survive. A few who do not bounce might crawl away. Cats like myself will need more than nine lives to survive the first round.
I get on well with my GP. I am, touch wood, fortunate enough not to need him too often. He is empathetic. He also has a sense of humour - much needed. He assumes I am intelligent enough to understand what he is telling me.He works in a clinic with seven other doctors but the place has more of a family feel. He does not mind asking for help when he needs it.
I happened to be there at the same time as my sister's Greek mother in law. As she gets older Panayoita speaks less and less English. It was never good and it is rapidly getting much worse. She was upset, very upset. Her doctor, someone else I know, was not available so she had to see mine. He could not understand her. He knew I was next on the list. He knew we knew one another. He put his head out to see if I was there. I went in and helped Panayoita explain the problem. I do not speak Greek but I am used to her English and I can adjust mine so that she can understand.
Would that happen in a super-size clinic? There might be someone who speaks Greek but there might not too. As it was my GP's knowledge of his own patients meant he was able to help. It made his day a little less stressful.
This morning there is an announcement for another super-size school. This is a cradle to school leaving affair on the northern outskirts of the city. The state government is setting up more of these. The idea is that you will get all your schooling in one place. You arrive at six weeks of age (so your mother can go back to work) and stay until you finish year twelve. You will be processed. There will be thousands rather than hundreds of students. The school will have 'facilities'. I am sure they will be good facilities.
I went to much smaller schools, the smallest had just 46. We did not have facilities. We did have a lot of individual attention. I skipped a year, so did the bank manager's son. We had to do a lot of work on our own while my father taught the junior grades. There was an expectation that we would get our set work done, that we would help the younger students, and that we would be self-reliant in the things that mattered. We all knew one another.
I do not see super-size working this way. I like knowing that my GP knows me. I like knowing that he cared enough about Panayoita to ask me to help. I feel safer when we all know each other.
Will super-size let us know each other?


Anonymous said...

Big, bigger, best ............. no way!
All we need is big enough ........ your knitted hats, scarves and jumpers, my lap quilts, bed quilts and wallhangings ........... any bigger is pointless.
Judy B

Rachel Fenton said...

When things are too big there is waste. I hate waste.