Tuesday, December 29, 2009
“Katoomba Hospital is in the process of appointing three new medical staff to work in the mental health unit and they are expected to commence work before the end of December.”
Source of this quote
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The staff from the Hospital involved in the "Who Will Speak For Us" Blog would like to say
Saturday, November 21, 2009
But just one year on, the feel-good moment may already have passed. Despite notable bright spots, separate reports this week by the Australian Medical Association and an independent audit committee charged with measuring progress point in the same general direction: to well-intended reform plans that are bogging down in the same ponderous bureaucracy they were designed to address.......Hospitals, Garling told the Herald recently, are ''probably the most complex government enterprise''. Forty per cent of NSW's 100,000-strong workforce are doctors, nurses or other tertiary-qualified clinicians, all with independent professional traditions and strong views on patient care that may not coincide happily with flow charts and memos from central office....[READ MORE]
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In an earlier post, we pointed out the 51km distance between Katoomba Hospital and Nepean Hospital. To highlight this distance, members of the Community Lobby group HEAL together with some high profile politicians are going to walk the distance over two days on 28th-29th November 2009. Please lend your support!
Mrs Skinner first brought the motion, calling on the Government to honour its promise to keep the hospital’s maternity unit permanently open, to Parliament in October 2008 but it was not passed and debated.
Last month the motion was unanimously passed in the Legislative Assembly after an amendment by Mr Koperberg was included — for acknowledgment of current concerns about staff recruitment and calling on the Government to direct Sydney West Area Health Service to do all that is necessary to permanently maintain services at Katoomba Hospital.
“We really appreciate their efforts in bringing this motion before Parliament, especially the amendment by Mr Koperberg,” HEAL spokesperson and Blue Mountains deputy mayor Janet Mays said.
The lobby group has planned a two-day walk from Katoomba to Nepean Hospitals for November 28 and 29 to emphasise the distance involved and the importance of maintaining health services in the Blue Mountains.
Mrs Skinner has agreed to walk with HEAL members from Katoomba Hospital to Wentworth Falls and Mr Koperberg has confirmed he will meet the walkers at his Springwood office.
“HEAL is hopeful of meeting the NSW Minister for Health at the completion of the walk to hand her a letter requesting that Katoomba Hospital be reclassified as a rural hospital and that current service and bed closures be prioritised for re-opening,” Ms Mays said.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Bungling over redundancies leaves hospital short of beds
LOUISE HALL AND NATASHA WALLACENovember 4, 2009
SICK children are spending days stuck in the emergency department of a Sydney hospital because of a bungled plan to lay off hundreds of health-care workers.
Eight pediatric beds at Nepean Hospital have been closed because two experienced nurses took voluntary redundancy, despite assurances by the State Government that no front-line staff would be affected.
The Sydney West Area Health Service has been calling for redundancies but NSW Health intervened six weeks ago to stop more frontline staff leaving.
The director of emergency at Nepean Hospital, Rod Bishop, said the nursing redundancies and long-term understaffing meant the system was not coping. ''I have never seen it this bad in my nearly 30 years in the public hospital system,'' Dr Bishop said.
The decision to cut staff led to the closure of ward beds, including the eight pediatric beds. ''We've had children here for two days because there's not enough beds for them to be admitted to.''...........READ MORE
Katoomba Hospital mental health unit back at full capacity
A Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) spokesperson confirmed on Monday that a new doctor had started work in the hospital’s mental health unit.........“If community advocates don’t keep the spotlight on — and I’m regularly attacked for keeping the spotlight on — these things just hang for a long, long time,”.......READ MORE
Friday, October 30, 2009
On Thursday October 29th 2009, a Motion was introduced and accepted in the Legislative Assembly of the NSW Parliament calling on the Government to direct SWAHS to permanently maintain services at the Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital. The Motion which was accepted reads as follows with its with amendments:
"That this House calls on the Government to honour its commitment to the member for Blue Mountains and local residents that the maternity unit at Blue Mountains hospital will remain open permanently and that this House acknowledges current concerns regarding staff recruitment and calls upon the Government to direct the Sydney West Area Health Service to do all that is necessary to permanently maintain services at Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital."
You can read the entire transcript from the Hansard here.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Katoomba Hospital clinic may close
An internal Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) email between managers in its Western Pathology Cluster dated October 12 requested the clinic be shut down by the end of the month because it was not within the scope or service provision of the pathology division, despite being open for the last 13 years...read more
Thursday, October 22, 2009
1) Remember What You Are Doing.
Our focus is the Community we serve. The delivery of health services to the people of NSW is what we are about, and whatever threatens access to health care needs to be corrected.
2) Maintain Online Anonymity.
If you haven't done so already, download the "Tor Bundle" to a 50MB or more flashdrive or your home computer:
The instructions are on the website.
Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.
3) Get Organized.
It starts with a small group of trusted individuals who meet regularly and discretely. Also, you should become members of your professional association or union if you are not already.
5) Have Courage.
Abusers use fear to control their victims, threatening them if they tell anyone about the abuse. The more abuse is exposed, the less power it has. Let your professional association or union know what is happening. Courage is not a lack of fear, but rather, the ability to act and move forward despite our fear. Fear does terrible things to people if it is allowed to take over. Remember, we are all in this together. Its a mess, but we can work it out. Encourage each other. Sometimes a knowing smile is all it takes.
6) Be Non-Violent and Don't Do Anything Illegal.
Do not breach breach patient confidentiality. Don't slander or make libellous claims against individuals. Do not accuse people of crimes or misconduct online. If someone has committed a crime or is guilty of misconduct, you should inform the proper authorities (police, ICAC etc.)
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Frontline Staff were never supposed to go according to the Director General of NSW Health:
"MORE than 60 nurses in western Sydney have been left in limbo after NSW Health suddenly barred frontline public hospital staff from taking voluntary redundancy.
....The NSW Nurses Association said that some nurses had sold houses and bought businesses only to be told they could no longer leave, after the political hot potato - the loss of frontline nurses - became public...............the director-general of NSW Health, Debora Picone, issued a directive to all area health services on September 21, the day the Herald revealed the extent of the redundancies, that they were ''not to allow voluntary redundancy offers to be made to frontline clinical staff, except in cases where they are occupying management or administrative positions....''
Doctors, nurses and Community members in the Snowy Mountains Shire told the member for Eden-Monaro they want a Federal take-over of their hospitals, and the money to be managed at the Community level rather than by the Area Health Service where it just disappears in administration:
"...........Dr Kelly emphasised the federal government was looking at a bottom up approach to health taking power from the top level and giving it back to the people. The proposal suggests an injection of Federal Government funds to iron out the funding inequalities for rural areas who get about $200 per capita less spent on health than their city counterparts.
Monaro Community Cancer Research president Sue Litchfield suggested council be entrusted with the funds.
“Don’t give it to Greater Southern Area Health Service. It’ll just get eaten up in the cesspool of administration.”.......
.......Nurse Bronnie Taylor said the system could not get any worse and that the public was happy to pay more providing they see immediate results...."
Monday, October 19, 2009
Now, get in your car, and drive south down Maquarie St. away from the Opera House. Turn right at Albert St., then take the first left on to Phillip St. Drive about 2 minutes, then turn Right at Bridge St. Turn left into George St. through Ultimo, Glebe, Pyrmont, past Five Dock down Parramatta Rd., through Strathfield.
Join the M4 Motorway.
Now drive through Homebush, Granville, Parramatta, Merrylands, and Westmead.
Keep driving through St Mary’s and St. Clair, and when you reach Orchard Hills, you will see a turn off to your left to the Northern Road. Pull over.
You have just driven the same distance that exists between the Blue Mountains Hospital in Katoomba and Nepean Hospital in Penrith- a distance of 51km.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Word has reached us that particular staff are being targeted by management as having contributed to this blog. Staff are being intimidated. Management couldn't have it more wrong. No one enters any information on this blog from a work computer. If you want to know how we access this site and communicate with each other via IM, ask the IT department about the Tor Network. All it takes is a 50MB or more flashdrive.
We are not afraid. We will keep speaking out.
Good luck finding those needles.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
We have received a tip off from someone close to SWAHS executives that this blog is now not only being monitored but attempts at destroying it are being made by planting comments which deliberately name individual persons and accuse them of corruption. The tactic is simple and has been used in dictatorships all over the world, kind of like planting drugs on someone and then calling the Drug Squad. We found two such comments today and have removed them, and have switched on comment moderation.
As stated in an earlier post, this blog is about defending Human Rights, not only ours, but those of the Community we serve. Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
"Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence."We accuse no particular person of anything. It is not Personnel that need to be changed in NSW Health. What needs to be changed is the culture.
We simply demand the rights granted us under Articles 12 & 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 12These two basic Human Rights have apparently been denied Mr. Bryan McKee-Hata.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Two injustices don't make justice. Our Human Rights are being attacked, but we do not attack anyone else's rights. If Australians cannot speak up and tell each other what is going on in Australia, can we claim a better Human Rights record than China or Iran?
Sunday, October 11, 2009
One such golden moment has taken place on this blog in the form of this comment:
"This appears to be the immature ravings of undisciplined, self-centred individuals.Lets take a look at this comment and some of the ideas it presents. The author of the comment suggests that the blog is "undermining their employer's business". Here is the definition of a business:
Get a job with another employer and try undermining their business to see how long you last in the workforce.
You are coming across, to reasonably thinking people, as people who want to be paid 'appearance money'. Check your employment details!"
"Business:Lets apply this definition of a business to a Public Hospital or Area Health Service. Take the example of Katoomba hospital. Fristly, what is being "exchanged" for the services which the hospital "business" provides and for what "profit"? Does the hospital make a profit? Does it receive something in exchange for the goods and services it provides? Secondly, Who are the investors? The "investors" are actually the tax payers aren't they?
Economic system in which goods and services are exchanged for one another or money, on the basis of their perceived worth. Every business requires some form of investment and a sufficient number of customers to whom its output can be sold at profit on a consistent basis. "
The reality is that Public Health is a public service, not a business. And even if it were a business, who would be the owner of the business? Wouldn't that be the investors? And aren't the investors the tax payers?
What we have here in the conceptualization of Area Health Services as "businesses" is actually the "fallacy of reification" or "misplaced concreteness". An Area Health Service is not a "thing" in itself; it is simply an organized collection of capital and labour directed at providing a public service. The common fallacy that an Area Health Service is a thing in itself is the result of the recognition of corporations as legal entities before the law. But the staff of the Area Health Service don't work "for" the Area Health Service, they work "in" the Area Health Service "for" the public- i.e., they are public servants.
Conceptualizing public health organizations as "businesses" is not only innappropriate since they are public services, but such flawed conceptualizations are actually the root of many of the problems health services currently face. Expecting a public service to operate like a business is doomed to failure, as is conceptualizing a corporation as anything other than a collection of capital and labour.
The investors in Public Health are the Community- don't they have a right to know what their investment is doing for them?
Understanding such concepts are important if one wishes to enter the health debate.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Despite Internet censorship at work, we are still able to get through, and we will not be silent.
We are Legion. There is no single "mole" or "leak". And therein lies our strength. We are all in this together. We will not be afraid, and we will not be intimidated, and we will not be silent.
We support and encourage each other with a knowing smile and a wink at work, but we don't do our speaking out there, so you needn't have removed internet access from the wards including the Emergency Department so that Doctors can't look something up when they need to.
In the defense of the patients and Community we strive to serve, we are angry but non-violent. We are defending Human Rights here. The right of equal access to health care. The right of peaceful protest. The right to speak out when we see something detrimental to the Community we have been comissioned to serve.
Australia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are Australians who serve Australians and visitors from other nations to our beautiful city of the Blue Mountains, and we claim those Universal Human Rights for them and for us.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
To help SWAHS stay on track with this promise, we have provided the following countdown to 11am on Christmas Eve:
Katoomba Hospital bed closures
BY SHANE DESIATNIK
7/10/2009 3:00:00 PM
One third of the beds in Katoomba Hospital’s new mental health unit remain closed due to a staff shortage on the eve of National Mental Health Awareness Week, but Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) insists it is in the process of resolving the problem by Christmas…......A spokesperson from SWAHS acknowledged last Friday a shortage of doctors resulted in a reduction of patients who can be treated safely in the unit in recent months. “Katoomba Hospital is in the process of appointing three new medical staff to work in the mental health unit and they are expected to commence work before the end of December.”
We thought we'd countdown to 11am on Christmas Eve because that way, if the counter reaches zero and the three doctors haven't materialized, they will still have six hours on Christmas Eve before home time to employ them.
Monday, October 5, 2009
One of the most stupid "arguments" made against the community’s approach to saving their hospital has been that it is “political”- as though somehow, that’s a Bad Thing.
Ironically, the ones attempting to use this fallacious argument are politicians! It’s kind of like an electrician telling you that you can’t change your own light bulbs because that’s “electrical”.
Of course people working to save the hospital from further downgrading and restoring services to the community is political! We live in a Democracy remember? A Democracy means that the people participate in their government rather than the government being a Dictatorship where only “official” politicians should be allowed to have an opinion on how the public is to be treated and how public money is to be spent. Government in a Democracy means participation and scrutiny by the people does it not? So why do our politicians attempt to silence any dissent by labeling it “political” as though politics is some Mystical Religion which only a High Priesthood of “politicians” is allowed admission to?
Friday, October 2, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Mental Health Unit at Blue Mountains Hospital will be celebrating in a unique way by keeping five of its beds closed, cutting back on Nursing Staff rostered on for each shift and not admitting patients outside of business hours.
We just wanted to say "thanks so much" for the farewell for the "redundant nurses" last week at Nepean Hospital. It was fabulous. Those nine lucky chosen ones whose redundancies you managed to push through (before those nasty unions interfered with an appeal to the Industrial Relations Court) looked absolutely fantastic as you gave them their genuine goldique medallions from Sydney West and their A4 Certificates printed on what must be one of the only dot-matrix printers left in the world.
How could we forget your stirring words Marie as you pointed out what a red letter day it was that for the first time, nurses were being given a "golden handshake" because you think they're redundant?
Do you guys in the Executive ever stop to think what it must be like for us to come to work every day knowing that you consider us on the front-line to be expendable or "worthy of golden handshakes" as you put it?
And just when morale is at an all-time low, you decide to close the hospital Kiosk and replace it with an "interim" one run in our staff dining room. And just to make sure that we knew how little you thought of us, you tore up in front of us the petition we started in the wards and the ED against the closure of the Kiosk. What was your reason for tearing them up again? Oh yes: you "hadn't authorised the petition". How many dictators do you think actually "authorised" petitions made against their actions?
Frankly, we feel abused and betrayed, and your bread and circuses in the form of a BBQ and a colourful new newsletter (the first issue of which announces the closure of the Kiosk) have done little to improve anything. We hold little hope that you care though.
We will not pretend. We will not put on a smile. We will not say we're all right for you.
And we will not forget.
Some Redundant Nurses at Blue Mountains Hospital.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Westmead doctors back in charge
JULIE ROBOTHAM MEDICAL EDITORAugust 12, 2009
MANAGEMENT structures at the struggling Westmead Hospital will be urgently revised after an external review found alienation and low morale among doctors and nurses could be risking patients' safety.
The report, by a senior Victorian health administrator, Patricia Faulkner, and a Sydney heart specialist, Phil Harris, criticised the removal of doctors and senior nurses from organisational decisions affecting patients. The authors pointed out less than one-third of managers responsible for particular aspects of patient care across the entire western Sydney area were themselves doctors.
According to the report: "Morale at Westmead Hospital is variable, but in pockets is extremely low … Sustained issues in relation to staff morale can lead to issues around quality and safety."
The reviewers found there were long delays in advertising vacancies and recruiting people to vacant clinical roles, while administrative positions were filled much quicker, and even very senior doctors had little control over their department's budget and could not order essential equipment.
Responding to the report, NSW Health's director-general, Debora Picone, told the Herald a general manager for Westmead - Sydney's largest hospital - would be appointed within weeks, to "rebalance" decision-making back towards clinicians.
The review was commissioned earlier this year after the hospital's doctors voted no confidence in the Sydney West Area Health Service's chief executive, Steven Boyages. Professor Boyages has disputed the validity of the doctors' motion.
Professor Picone said she agreed that Westmead's governance structure was "unnecessarily complicated" and it was "a problem" clinicians believed they could not adequately influence management decisions. She confirmed Professor Boyages would remain in his role and said a new clinical council would be appointed at the hospital along with the general manager, to ensure Westmead's interests were sufficiently represented in regional spending and management decisions.
Peter Klineberg, the chairman of Westmead's medical staff council, which represents the hospital's doctors, said a key issue raised at last night's meeting was whether the new general manager would have genuine control over budgets and staff hiring. "We discussed the delegations … Are they real or are they ghost delegations?" he said.
Professor Klineberg said doctors had been assured the new appointee would determine how money was spent, though there would be no funding increase overall.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Fact No. 1: NSW Health has now had five Health Ministers in four years. Doesn't that tell us something?
Fact No. 2: These continual failures and changes in leadership in the NSW Health Department have all been since the NSW Area Health Services were amalgamated into supersized Area Health Services. As recently as 2002, Katoomba Hospital used to be part the "Wentworth Area Health Service" covering Penrith and the Blue Mountains. When the Area Health Services were amalgamated, Katoomba Hospital became part of "Sydney West Area Health Service" which now includes hospitals and community services in an area covering Auburn in Sydney to Portland 150km away.
Fact No. 3: About every 15 years, some new bright spark comes up with the idea of amalgamating the Area Health Services, it becomes a dismal failure, and about fifteen years later they are divided up into smaller Area Health Services again.
Fact No. 4: Amalgamating the Area Health Services does not save any money. Lets say you were the Manager of Critical Care in the Old Wentworth Area Health Service. When the the Area Health Services were amalgamated, your position became redundant and you had to apply for the new position of Manager of Critical Care. If you were not successful in your application for the job, the Area Health Service declares you a "Displaced Person" and is obliged to find you "meaningful employment". That "meaningful employment" may be counting paperclips in the "Quality Unit", but you will still be paid at the rate you were paid in your previous position as Manager of Critical Care. So now two people are being paid for the one position.
Fact No. 5: The five NSW Health Ministers in four years coincides with the amalgamation of the super-sized Area Health Services. Coincidence? Synchronicity? Or is is it just because it has been a dismal failure.
Fact No. 6: Sydney West Area Health Service is now doing a "realignment" of services, doing away with the Network Streams (in typical Newspeak, management is firm in insisting that its not a "restructure" but a "realignment"- which has a new structure....sigh). Yet more "Displaced Persons" on the way?
What are the side effects of all this? Well, centralized management of a Super-sized Area Health Service cannot possibly effectively manage smaller regional facilities so their solution is to centralize services into major hospitals and make all the regional hospitals "train stops on the way" to where the central services are. Problem is, Katoomba Hospital is an hour by ambulance to Nepean Hospital- hence babies born on the highway. Which brings us to Fact No. 7: Katoomba is NOT a suburb of Sydney. I should know, I live here. For all other purposes (eg, postal services) Katoomba is treated as a regional area. If I get a piece of large equipment delivered from Sydney I have to pay for delivery charges outside of Sydney. Yet Katoomba Hospital is not allowed to be called a Rural Hospital, Rural Hospitals are entitled to more funding to attract doctors.
The management of Katoomba Hospital have failed to advocate for the Hospital and instead are the lackeys of the failing Sydney West Area Health Service whose CEO has received two votes of no confidence from Doctors at Westmead Hospital.
And what about the brand-spanking new Mental Health Unit at Katoomba Hospital? Well guess what? Five of its fifteen beds have been closed since May 2009. The reason? Sydney West Area Health Service will not allow them to recruit a doctor to replace the one who left to join the management of the hospital in a newly created management position. Too many chiefs, not enough indians- which is basically the whole problem with Sydney West Area Health Service. And now that they're in the red financially, frontline staff at Katoomba Hospital are among the positions being shed.