Question about private/public for a friend

SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,078
I'm asking so I can advise a friend who is newly diagnosed and possibly does not want me to ask at all so I will keep the details confidential.  She does not have private cover and has a referral to RAH but as such, cannot choose her surgeon.  I have gone privately to my surgeon (Jim Kollias) who also consults at RAH and have I recommended him to her.  Does anyone know, if she goes to him as a private patient on the initial consult (providing she wants to), can she ask for him to be her treating surgeon in the public system (providing he wants to)?  My question is all about what is possible in the system.
I have also recommended this forum to her but I don't know whether she will look at it or not - hopefully she will and hopefully she won't be annoyed at me for asking this.


  • AnnskiAnnski Blue Mountains, NSWMember Posts: 99
    Hello Sister, I went private for my surgery (single mastectomy). My surgeon recommended me to a particular oncologist at a Cancer Center nearer my home but turns out it is a public only centre (he doesn't see private patients). He saw me for initial consult and has seen me twice since but it was made clear to me that I would be seeing registrars on occasion and I couldn't be sure of seeing him. However he is clearly supervising. I think in your friend's situation she could ask her GP to make a specific referral to that surgeon for the initial consult. He could give her the info about his recommendations and the cost of doing it without private health insurance and if she then went public he could give no guarantee or even expectation that he would be the one she would see for the surgery but he could maybe do it anyway. I am very happy with my present situation and it is amazing to have the attention of the top doctors there for free as against the thousands in gap fees and other fees when I was private. She needs to do some research on the Cancer Care unit at that hospital and talk to a Breast Care nurse through this network for specific advice. All best wishes to you both.
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 2,766
    She can certainly give it a go, she has nothing to lose. I'm a public surgical patient at Peter Mac and alternate between two surgeons. They both have minions attached who seem to handle all the boring follow up stuff but I can see the head honchos when things turn to shit.
  • Sunshine0206Sunshine0206 Member Posts: 146
    edited January 2018
    I don’t think there is any harm in asking the question. I saw my oncologist privately for the first consult. I then decided to attend chemo as a public patient. My oncologist is the director of the region and arranged this. My reviews are with him strictly. I see the rotating junior doctor weekly (on paclitaxol). He is only a phone call away for any trouble shooting. 

    For my surgery, I was a private patient. I paid the gap. Couldn’t be happier. My surgeon is the “project manager”. She co ordinates my treatment in the back ground. 

    My radiation oncologist is private but bulk bills. 

    Im not sure how surgeons would work publicly. You can only ask the question.
  • Summerhill38Summerhill38 Member Posts: 778
    Yes, @Sister
    The surgeon can put her on his public list but on the day the hospital can over-ride this if it is a teaching hospital.  He would still be in the room but as the ''teacher''.  It is a question she should ask of him.
  • SoldierCrabSoldierCrab Bathurst NSW Member Posts: 3,204
    I went through the Breast Cancer Institute in Westmead as a public patient... I was sent by GP to Dr Elizabeth Elder at the institute she has a team under her. I am very happy with the way I was treated and all subsequent follow ups. I have my last appointment 5 and 1/2 yrs out in a few weeks.

  • RomlaRomla AdelaideMember Posts: 1,878
    @Sister Melissa Bochner also works at the RAH and is spoken of very highly too.
  • Rosie_BCNARosie_BCNA Administrator, Staff, Member, Moderator Posts: 178
    @Sister you may find the Cancer Council Vic publication called Cancer care and your rights helpful to look at. It can be downloaded or ordered via the website & has practical information about navigating the health care system and public/private sectors. I highly recommend it. 
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,078
    Thanks all!
  • TennilleTennille Member Posts: 174
    Public all the way! Never had anything but the best and no out of pocket expenses.
  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 4,959
    Whilst I love my surgeon Dr Kollias I believe Melissa Bochner who is the other surgeon at tbe RAH is also very very experienced and has a good reputation.

    Her profile.
  • onemargieonemargie queenslandMember Posts: 1,229
    Hi there @sister. I’m in qld and my breast surgeon works public and private and I saw him initially at his private clinic when I was first diagnosed with bc then he was able to put me on his public list for my mastectomy to my affected left side and I had my surgery two weeks after that. I also took my right boob off as a prophylaxis and I went in as a private patient in the public system and had the same surgeon again. If the surgeon sees private and public patients she can definately see him privately initially then he can put her on his list in the public system or alternatively her GP can do a detailed referal  directly to him in the public system as well. Just make sure he words it to say thats who she wants to see . The GP can also speak to the surgeon directly to make sure he’s aware of it as well. I work in a GP clinic so I  can be done. I would assume the same can happen in SA. My referal for my reconstructive surgeon in the public system (Royal brisbane)  was addressed directly to dr Matthew peters and I’ll be waiting forever to see him but I will be seeing him unless thIngs change for some reason. Hope this helps. Margie  xxx
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