Wednesday, November 24, 2010


4000 Nurses from all over NSW rallied in Homebush on 24th November 2010, and voted unanimously to take onging industrial action to give the people of NSW the Public Hospitals they deserve.

For the past eight years or so, NSW Health and the NSW government have reduced the number of nurses and midwives serving the Community in its public hospitals to ridiculous levels. In some places, one midwife assisting three women in Labour, in others, two nurses attempting to manage 15 bed Emergency wards, 30 bed medical surgical wards with only four nurses to tend the 30 patients. Patient's families having to hire private nurses to care for their loved ones in Public Hospitals. Patients even dying because of poor staffing.....

In Victoria, for the past ten years, there has been a MINIMUM NURSE TO PATIENT RATIO OF 1:4 IN ALL NSW PUBLIC HOSPITALS. If its good enough for Victorians, why isn't it good enough for the People of NSW?

Safe hospitals like those in Victoria are what the Nurses and Midwives are asking the NSW Government to provide the People of NSW. Nurses and midwives have been asking this for SEVEN MONTHS and the answer has continually been "NO". Instead, NSW Health and the NSW Government tried to buy shut the nurses off with a small pay rise provided they stopped demanding better hospitals for the people of NSW- and this time, the Nurses said "NO!" And when they said "NO!", both Carmel Tebbut and Deborah Piccone threatened the Nurses with legal action, yet the Nurses refused to be silent.

The Nurses of NSW are giving the NSW Government until Tuesday, 30th of November to make a serious offer to adequately staff your public hospitals with a MINIMUM NURSE TO PATIENT RATIO OF 1:4 IN ALL NSW PUBLIC HOSPITALS. If such an offer to make NSW Hospitals safe again for patients is not forthcoming, the Nurses themselves will make the hospitals safe again by closing non-urgent beds.

Studies have shown that the death rate for patients in hospitals increses 7% for EACH PATIENT ABOVE THE 1:4 NURSE-PATIENT RATIO. By slashing the numbers of staff in Hospitals, our government has shown how little it values our lives and the lives of our loved ones who are admitted to hospital.

This is not about pay rises, its about quality care for patients in NSW hospitals.

Show your support for safe nurse to patient ratios at .

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Doctors query local control of medical services

The Australian, June 30, 2010

SENIOR doctors have raised the alarm over another element of the federal government's health reform program.

They warn that the original promise that the system would be "run locally" is under threat as states move to set up hospital networks.

Local control was central to Kevin Rudd's original pitch for his health reform plans in March, and at the time was seen as a partial riposte to Tony Abbott's plan to restore local hospital boards.

But doctors from NSW, Victoria and rural Australia say local clinical control faces being severely curtailed by a requirement that doctors and nurses given seats on the networks' governing councils are drawn from neighbouring networks. Senior doctors say the condition -- ostensibly to reduce conflicts of interest -- will ensure clinicians on the councils will be unfamiliar with the issues and have limited ability to influence what goes on.

Sydney emergency specialist Sally McCarthy, president of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, said the issue was "of great concern" and allowing only external clinicians would "completely undermine" the government's pledge for local control.

"I don't think you can read it in any other way . . . than a deliberate move to continue to shut clinicians out of meaningful involvement and decision-making," Dr McCarthy said.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

SMH: Cancer patients denied surgery

Cancer patients denied surgery

June 8, 2010

HUNDREDS of patients in Sydney, many needing spine and cancer surgery, have been left off hospital waiting lists for up to a year because overworked staff did not file the paperwork.

The mistake, which doctors say has affected more than 800 people, some in acute pain, has forced the health department to order a blitz on the centralised surgery bookings system in western Sydney. But angry surgeons claim some patients have already deteriorated as a result of the fiasco.

The error has also made politically sensitive hospital performance figures - much vaunted by the health department - look better than they are.

A spokeswoman for the Sydney West Area Health Service said about 200 forms were still waiting to be processed but denied 800 people had been affected.

She said 93 per cent of patients needing urgent elective surgery had been treated within the required 30-day time frame.

While most urgent cases were being seen, surgeons said at least 300 patients at Westmead and another 300 at Mt Druitt and Blacktown - some needing surgery for bladder or skin cancer - were never allocated to the list so the performance figures were false. The remaining 200 forms belonged to patients from other hospitals in western Sydney.

The number of cases missing from the lists was the tip of an iceberg, said the chairman of Westmead's medical staff council, Peter Klineberg.

''Most surgeons stopped even trying to put patients forward because they refused to tolerate them getting lost in the system.

''There is a lot of frustration over this, a lot of ill will. This might have seemed like a good idea at the time but it discounted the human factors,'' he said.

Donald MacLellan, the health department's program director of surgery, has been called in to audit the bookings and close the centralised office. But it could take at least six months to resolve the crisis. Hospitals will be ordered to revert to booking their own patients.

''It's a crazy situation but we're just grateful at long last something is being done,'' the chairman of the division of surgery at Westmead Hospital, John Fletcher, said yesterday.

Since March last year, surgeons in western Sydney were told to submit booking forms to a central office in Blacktown, regardless of which hospital would perform the surgery.

The system was put in place by the former chief executive of Sydney West Area Health Service, Steven Boyages.

But a statewide freeze on employing non-clinical staff meant bookings, which should have been entered into the computer system within three days, mounted and were ignored.

Professor Fletcher said surgeons had pleaded with the department to acknowledge the system's failure, but their calls had fallen on deaf ears.

''In some cases, we even had patients allocated to lists but they were not notified, so we had theatre staff standing around expecting them,'' he said.

The introduction on March 1 of the state trauma plan, whereby Westmead received a greater proportion of severely injured patients, would also make it difficult for surgeons to clear the backlog, but staff had been given a guarantee the new bookings office would be adequately staffed and resourced.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Calls for Return of Eye Surgery at Katoomba Hospital

28 Apr, 2010 09:00 AM

NSW opposition health spokesperson Jillian Skinner has called for the return of eye surgery at Katoomba Hospital to address a growing waiting list, describing the issue as a “no-brainer”.

Mrs Skinner met a Leura-based specialist on Thursday, April 15 to discuss the regional demand for eye surgery and told the Gazette a short time later Katoomba Hospital has the capacity to help eye patients if funding was allocated.

“Katoomba Hospital has everything it needs — all the equipment and staff — to deliver cataract surgery, except the funding,”Mrs Skinner said.

“It’s not expensive to provide this service, it costs about $3000 per procedure and only takes 1.5 to two hours to do.

“The procedure is being done at Springwood Hospital, but has been reduced from 66 operations per year to just 27.

“It is a false economy not to provide this service to people who desperately need it.”

But the Sydney West Area Health Service said extra eye surgery sessions have commenced at Springwood and Lithgow hospitals to reduce planned surgery waiting times.

Given the high cost of specialised equipment for eye surgery, and to make the best use of public resources, the spokesperson said “it is most efficient to provide eye surgery in specialised centres”.

Mrs Skinner met two women outside Katoomba Hospital who need cataracts removed but had no idea when they will progress in the queue.

Eileen Connell had been on the waiting list for eye surgery since March 2009 to remove a cataract in one eye and said vision in her other eye is also poor. The Gazette understands she has since had her surgery booked for next week.

Single mother of four, Sharon Craufurd, was told two months ago by her doctor she requires eye surgery urgently, with deteriorating vision most likely related to liver failure she suffered in 2004.

“My doctor said I could be legally blind by the end of this year if nothing is done,” Sharon said.

“I got a letter yesterday saying I’m on a waiting list for another 12 months.”

Big turn-out at Springwood health forum

Blue Mountains residents packed a public forum at Springwood last week, to have their say on the Federal Government’s health reforms.

Hosted by the Federal Labor candidate for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, the forum at Springwood Sports Club attracted community health workers, nurses, doctors, other health workers and the general public.

Ms Templeman said there were many valuable insights from people about issues that need to be considered as the reforms are implemented.

“There is a clear message from the community that they expect to be consulted about and involved in the roll out of the new independent primary health care organisations and the local hospitals network,” she said.

“And I am very supportive of the views that were put that the 1300 new hospital beds and 2500 new aged care beds need to be supported by additional qualified nursing staff.”

Guest speaker Barbra Monley, a member of the NSW Nurses Association who works at Blue Mountains Hospital, reminded the audience that the best health care required “the right nurse, in the right place, at the right time”.

Chair of the Division of General Practice, Dr Andrew Knight, said that “a lot of sensible people” had been consulted during the development of the Federal Government’s health reforms, but that it was important that local consultation occurred for the next steps.

Ms Templeman said the forum showed there was a strong desire in the community for change in the health system.

“The Rudd Government has the political will to make these historic changes, and Tony Abbott will be going against community wishes if he chooses to block these reforms in the Senate,” she said.

Liberal candidate for Macquarie, Louise Markus — who did not attend the forum — said Blue Mountains residents remain “no better informed as to how many extra doctors, nurses, and aged care places will be provided under the Rudd Labor government’s so-called health reforms”.

“For the last 30 months Kevin Rudd has flown around Australia talking about health reforms. In the last six weeks Mr Rudd has continued talking but cannot say exactly when, where or how these reforms will be delivered.”