Friday, October 30, 2009

A Victory: Katoomba Hospital in The NSW Parliament

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

BMG: Hospital Blood Clinic May Close

Katoomba Hospital clinic may close

28/10/2009 12:16:00 PM
Health bureaucrats have ordered a review of a Katoomba Hospital clinic that at least 57 Blue Mountains residents rely on for regular life-saving treatment of blood disorders.

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 more

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reports From Westmead Staff

We are receiving reports that staff at Westmead Hospital are being threatened for using this blog. Here are some tips:

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

The Redundancy Debacle: SMH Report

Frontline Staff were never supposed to go according to the Director General of NSW Health:

Nurses left in lurch after redundancy ban

"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....''

What the Bell-Weather Seat is Saying.

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:

Health fix wanted

24/09/2009 6:55:00 PM

"...........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

How Far Is Blue Mountains Hospital From Nepean Hospital?

Imagine you are standing in on Bennalong Point on the Opera House steps looking at the Harbour Bridge in Sydney Harbour.

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

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

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

Is Australia A Free Country?

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 12
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.

Article 19
"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."
These two basic Human Rights have apparently been denied Mr. Bryan McKee-Hata.
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

J'accuse: Traducing a Critic

A disturbing article in the Sydney Morning Herald which may give some insight into the current culture of fear and intimidation.

Whose Business Is It Anyway?

There is a Golden Moment in the art of debating where your opponent makes a slip which exposes the main flaw in their argument.
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.
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!"
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:
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. "
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?
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

We Will Not Be Silent.

"There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind." - Virginia Woolf

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

Three New Doctors Are Coming And So Is Christmas

According to an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette today, the “staffing problems” at Katoomba hospital which have closed five of the Mental Health Beds at the hospital will be resolved by Christmas:

Katoomba Hospital bed closures

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.”
To help SWAHS stay on track with this promise, we have provided the following countdown to 11am on Christmas Eve:

For more widgets please visit

The Countdown started with 77 days to go.
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

“Political” Is Not a Dirty Word.

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

Watch our new video.

This video may be downloaded and distributed freely.

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