Death By Postcode

Both Peter Rogers and myself are very aware that there are tens of thousands of highly skilled medical experts in both the Ukraine and India who would love to come here to work. We have this from first hand knowledge. So why are they not here? Simple, the Government wants to charge them about $100, 000 each to be “certified” to practice here. Its all about the money. These party politics Governments would rather see people die than do anything to help them. The other side of it is the powerful medical lobby groups who do not want competition therefore forcing prices way up. This has to stop. Third world countries have far better medical than Australia, Peter and I have seen it first hand. Do have many others, thats why people are going overseas now for decent medical assistance.

If you think we are joking this Webmaster was told exactly that by a group of Indian Dentists.

Regional hospitals compared with third world as doctors put pressure on NSW Government to call for judicial inquiry

Tumut paramedic John Larter holds "Death by Postcode" sign at community protest.PHOTO: Tumut paramedic John Larter says the shortage of rural doctors is putting the community at risk. (ABC News)

Whistleblower doctors in New South Wales say their pleas for a serious inquiry into regional healthcare by the state government have been ignored since a damning Four Corners expose last month.

Key points:

  • Five doctors have written to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard asking him to set up an inquiry with the powers of a Royal Commission
  • Doctors say a ‘chain of responsibility’ should be established to strengthen hospital management accountability for patient outcomes
  • ABC audiences have inundated regional bureaux with stories of regional healthcare divide

The group of doctors who exposed conditions at the Broken Hill hospital after a teenage patient died of an infected toe in 2017 say there needs to be an immediate inquiry into regional healthcare in NSW and across the country.

The Four Corners program prompted an outpouring of response from people living in the regions.

The five doctors wrote to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard asking him to set up an inquiry with the powers of a Royal Commission to look at postcode disadvantages when it comes to healthcare, saying regional people deserve the same care as people in capital cities.

Paediatrician Dr Kerrie MacDonald has signed the letter and said regional people deserved the same care as people in capital cities.

“I think that country people are getting fed up with it,” Dr MacDonald said.

“We’re supposed to be a fair and just country and yet we’re not seeing it with healthcare.”

The group wants a “chain of responsibility” established in healthcare, so if the management of a health service rejects a doctor’s request for extra patient resources the management bears responsibility if something goes wrong.

Dr MacDonald is also concerned about a lack of medical resources in regional areas and the processes for country patients to access metropolitan hospitals.

The group sent the letter to Mr Hazzard on October 9 with a deadline to respond by the end of the month.

The minister’s office responded yesterday saying Mr Hazzard was seeking advice from the department and would respond next week, because he was busy this week.

‘Unacceptable’ figures

Alex Braes smiles with his 18th birthday cakePHOTO: Alex Braes with his 18th birthday cake. (Supplied)

It was the death of Alex Braes from an infected toe at Broken Hill hospital in 2017 that prompted Dr MacDonald and her colleagues to act.

She said figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare — which show the rate of potentially avoidable death increases from 91 per 100,000 people in the major cities to 136 in outer regional areas and 248 in remote Australia — was “unacceptable”.

“There should be a fairness of quality of care for people and that’s the most important part of all of this,” Dr MacDonald said.

She said regional hospitals suffered from a lack of resources, were isolated from capital city hospitals, and their managers needed to be more responsive to the views of medical staff.

“We’re talking about the non-clinician managers of health services,” Dr MacDonald said.

“They should be respectful of the views of the people who actually do the work and see the risks and see the gaps in services — and when there’s a need that should be responded to.”

‘A matter of time before someone dies’

Frustrated Riverina residents have travelled to the Murrumbidgee Local Health District headquarters in Wagga Wagga demanding more doctors for their hospitals.

“We’ve written letters to the paper, letters to the politicians, petitions, but nobody seems to be taking us seriously. Not the NSW government or the MLHD [Murrumbidgee Local Health District],” said Christine Webb, Secretary of the Tumut Community Association.

Ms Webb has worked as a nurse for 47 years and is horrified by the lack of support for health staff at Tumut Hospital, where there is no doctor on-duty up to five days a week.

“We’re asking for two doctors to be employed at Tumut Hospital and that they have emergency and anaesthetic skills,” she said.

“The current situation is not acceptable. Enough’s enough. Lives are not negotiable.

“It’s a matter of time before someone dies.”

‘Third world country stuff’

The postcode gap was highlighted for former Sydneysider Michael Hannah when he broke his leg in multiple places on a Saturday, but could not get an x-ray at Tumut Hospital until the following Monday.

“Not to have x-rays available on a Saturday, that’s third world country stuff,” he said.

An x-ray confirmed a spiral fracture, but Mr Hannah was forced to wait until the following Saturday for surgery at Wagga Base Hospital.

With doctors overworked and unavailable, Tumut paramedic John Larter said he was being forced to work 20 hour shifts to cover the doctor shortage.

“I’ve made a complaint to Safe Work NSW because I believe paramedics are at risk of fatigue from the long hours which further puts the community at risk,” he said.

Mr Larter is also the deputy mayor of the Snowy Valleys Council and is concerned about how frequently the town of 6,300 people is without both doctors on-call in the hospital and paramedics nearby.

“This is Australia in 2019. Transferring people every day in an ambulance to a hospital, from a hospital, is ludicrous,” he said.

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District said a shortage of rural doctors was an issue Australia-wide, but that it was working with Tumut doctors to fill the gaps in the hospital roster by November 2019.

Unprecedented reaction

The episode of Four Corners which exposed how a lack of resources in regional hospitals was impacting patient care prompted a strong response from viewers.

Across regional Australia, ABC bureaux were inundated by people who have reached out eager to share their experiences.

Kylie Miller said she had no idea how a doctor who had previously been deregistered in New Zealand came to treat her son in regional Western Australia.

After 12 months of visits to multiple doctors, Ms Miller’s eight-year-old son Aled was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year.

One of those doctors was Julian Meredith Clive White who saw Aled three times in the regional town of Newman in January 2018.

Dr White was removed from the roll of medical practitioners in New Zealand in 1999 at the order of the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal after being found guilty of ‘disgraceful conduct’, but was readmitted as a medical practitioner in NZ in June 2010 and later that year as a GP in Australia.

The ‘disgraceful conduct’ finding came as a result of Dr White re-using hypodermic needles on different patients.

Ms Miller said Dr White did not treat Aled’s case as urgent, despite symptoms including vomiting, migraines, weight loss, and weakness.

At their second visit, Dr White gave Ms Miller a referral to a neurologist in Perth but did not mark it urgent, call the neurologist to discuss Aled’s case, or arrange an urgent appointment or provide full details of Aled’s history.

After their third visit to Dr White a few days later, Ms Miller immediately took her son to the Newman Hospital where he was flown to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth the next day and an MRI uncovered the tumour.

“By the time we diagnosed it, it had probably been growing for some years,” she said.

In March, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency queried Ms Miller about her dealings with the New Zealand and UK-trained GP as part of an investigation.

And in July, the West Australian State Administrative Tribunal found that Dr White’s conduct amounted to professional misconduct.

It found he had failed to maintain adequate records in relation to three patients, including Aled, did not coordinate continuity of care, and failed to undertake a proper examination of Aled.

The tribunal ordered he be mentored by a senior doctor, take part in further education, and ordered him to pay costs of $15,000 and report for a review in six months.

The ABC contacted Dr White at his medical practice in Condoblin, NSW, but he declined to comment.

Colin Birch, 63, died in 2015 after he underwent a minor procedure for a hernia at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Toowoomba in Queensland.

An autopsy found he had died as a result of the condition faecal peritonitis caused by a small bowel perforation.

His wife Rosemary Birch said the hospital had failed to pick up the symptoms of the condition after her husband’s surgery.

“His stomach was so swollen, his voice was like a whisper, he was short of breath, but I thought ‘oh well, they sent him home, he must be okay’ because you trust doctors and nurses, don’t you?” she said.

Ms Birch said when her husband returned to the hospital, vital blood tests that could have diagnosed his condition were lost.

“After he was dead, and after I went through all the paperwork, I found the blood tests were lost. I still want to know where the blood tests are because they would have shown something, they would have shown infection.”

She said staff had failed her husband.

“Three doctors and not one of them knew the signs of sepsis, not one, … nor any of the nurses.

“The nurse said ‘listen here, I’m the nurse here, you’re just the patient’, and that was very much the culture that we put up with. That’s why [Colin] is not here.

“He was just like a big gentle teddy bear, highly intelligent.”

St Vincent’s Private Hospital said it was sorry for Mrs Birch’s loss but would not be providing further comment.

Melvin Fry’s parents were told he would not mentally develop beyond the age of three or four after his traumatic premature birth in Sale, east of Melbourne.

Jessica Fry was admitted to the Central Gippsland Hospital on May 2, 2012, but hospital staff told her there was no room in the maternity ward and no staff to deliver the baby.

A bed was later found, but Melvin was delivered by a midwife who was not rostered on, a student midwife, and a student doctor.

After 40 minutes of pushing they found Ms Fry’s cervix had not completely dilated.

As a result, Melvin’s head was compressed and he was not breathing when he was born.

Ms Fry said he was blue and non-responsive but he was left on her chest for about 10 minutes.

An emergency team was called and attempted to clear his airway with a suction machine, but it was not working.

Jessica’s husband, Llewyn, had to step in to get it going.

“I find it hard to talk about it. It was a bit traumatic, I guess, in the end, and seeing him like that and helpless,” Mr Fry said.

Melvin survived but has an acquired brain injury, has no memory, and has to re-learn behaviours every day.

He also has a range of other conditions including epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

The hospital said it was “deeply sorry for Melvin” but “it is not appropriate for us to comment on individual patient treatment issues through the media”.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-01/doctors-call-for-judicial-inquiry-into-regional-health/11630746

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1 Comment

  1. Rick Fishbourne

    Great BUT…..We have had many instances of quack Foreign Dr’s practicing Medicine in Australia already……How do you propose to seperate the Wheat from the Chaff??

    Bring White, South African Christians to Australia, URGENTLY!

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