Editorial: Callous cash perk ditched


Editorial: Callous cash perk ditched

The hospital doctors’ “cash for ash” perk is shameful.

A charge, so notional that it varies from $13 to $90, for the few minutes it takes a doctor to fill out a form certifying a body fit for cremation has, by shabby tradition, gone into junior doctors’ social club events, parties, Sky TV in doctors’ lounges, or just been pocketed by the medic concerned.

And all of this has been sanctioned by the district health boards (DHBs).

On what grounds? It’s a special charge, spuriously levied for something that is plainly part of a doctor’s normal duties, then generally spent indulgently.

Let nobody cast this as some sort of MASH-style venting, in which hardworking doctors necessarily blow off steam, because it’s funded by distasteful and dishonourable means – hitting up freshly grieving families for no better reason than the sad fact that they’ve been able to get away with it.

The level of respect afforded those families is reflected in that jauntily applied name.

Look at the reaction now that reporters have winkled it out. An advisory message has gone out from the Resident Doctors’ Association, effectively breaking the sorrowful news that the this little perk is coming to an end, not because of any change of heart about this starkly heartless practice, but because the media was about to haul it into the public arena and spoil everybody’s fun.

The Southern DHB had not, at the time of writing, come clean about the amount its doctors were permitted to charge, and then individually retain.

At least other DHBs throughout the country fessed up, humiliating though they most must have found it. Why not our board? No, that won’t do.

Some northern DHBs can take a little credit for having earlier discontinued the practice before it stood exposed. The Waikato DHB said it did so because to continue it “became inappropriate”.

No, it didn’t. It was always inappropriate.

The rest here ..



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