Barber-surgeons to cut elective waiting lists

2 minute read

By practising to their full scope, Queensland hopes barbers can improve access to vital care.

Australian healthcare is stretched to breaking point, with patients having to wait for weeks to see their GP, sitting for hours in crowded emergency rooms and waiting months or years for elective surgery.  

“Providing cutting-edge health care is both technologically and economically expensive,” medical historian Professor Candid said, “but the federal government is constantly on the lookout for sources of cheap labour and today they’ve announced that they’ll be reinstating barber surgeons.  

“Barbers cut hair and occasionally trim eyebrows,” Professor Candid continued, “but it hasn’t  always been this way. Two hundred and fifty years ago barbers were in the same guild as surgeons. They were highly skilled professionals who could treat buboes, lance boils, pull teeth, insert enemas, set fractures and apply leeches.  

“It’s hoped that by reclaiming their barber surgeon status the high-street hairdresser will once again be able to ease the pressure on GPs and even shorten surgical waiting lists.” 

OR spoke with Colin, one of the first patients to visit Sweeney Todd’s, a newly opened barber surgeon in a trial of the scheme in Northern Queensland.  

“When I arrived everything seemed pretty normal,” said Colin. “There were piles of hair on the floor and faded pictures of Cher on the wall – but then I heard a blood curdling scream coming from the back of the shop.” 

Before he knew it the barber surgeon had strapped Colin into a chair.   

“He shaved off all my hair and then tried to saw off the top of my head with a piece of cheese wire,” Colin recalled. “I must have passed out because when I woke up I had a neat scar on my scalp and I couldn’t remember my name … What is my name by the way? And where have all my teeth gone?” 

“We’re entering a new age in healthcare,” explained Professor Candid. “A cheaper, less qualified age, where the government is all too willing to replace your experienced but expensive doctor with a bulk-billing barber-surgeon.”  

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