WHAT'S WRONG WITH HEALTH IN THE ACT?
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2018-2019, of the 62,088 urgent patients visiting an emergency department in ACT public hospitals, only 32% were seen on time. The national average was 63%. If you break that down into Calvary and Canberra hospitals, Calvary saw 40% of urgent patients on time and the Canberra hospital only saw 25% of patients on time.
The Spire was a rush-job by Labor before the 2016 election. The amount of proposed beds in only one-third of what was proposed ten years ago. The grand plan still doesn't include specialists such as oncologists, endocrinologists, gynecologists etc. Neither the community nor health groups were consulted.
I want the ACT Government to build two more hospitals (Queanbeyan style) in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong, fully equipped and with properly vetted health professionals. The ACT needs accessible bulk-billed specialists so that Canberrans don't have to travel interstate anymore.
Let's look at a real-life example: A couple of years ago, my daughter had pneumonia and almost had kidney failure. She was taken to Calvary hospital only to be told that they did not have a children's ward. We were directed to take her to Canberra hospital. Calvary prepared the paperwork and called ahead that we were coming. When we arrived, we were told that admissions at Canberra hospital had closed for the night and that there was no bed available anyway. My daughter spent the night on a stretcher in the hallway. What? Canberra hospital is the biggest hospital around and they don't accept critically ill patients after dark? There was no state-wide emergency at the time as not to have a bed available! Two nurses that I spoke to told me that what my daughter and I were experiencing was standard practice at Canberra hospital.
Another real-life example: I had a stroke in 2016. I was taken to Canberra hospital which had no bed available so that I was directed to Calvary public hospital although the nora-virus had broken out there. Why send me to a hospital that has a virus outbreak?
Calvary was dirty, poorly equipped and the care factor was zero. There was no state-wide emergency at the time. Although the bed sheets were 'clean' there was red-brown dried crust on the bed frame. Not sure what that was. When I asked to go to the toilet, I was given a urinal (pee bottle). The image below shows that the 'fresh' bottle I was given had someone else's fecal matter on it (the brown crusty stuff on the inside). And then people wonder why the nora-virus breaks out at Calvary on a regular basis.
When I had to go to the toilet for major business, I was kept waiting for four (4) hours. My request was made at 6.00 am and a nurse came at around 10.00 am. Because I had already been infected with the nora-virus, I soiled my pants. Like everyone else, I was given nappies.
When I was wheeled into the shower through a big sliding door, I could see the female patient lying opposite the door looking at me. Zero privacy in this mixed ward. When I asked the orderlies to close the door as they undressed me, they did not respond. I then realised that they did not speak English. The other orderly then commenced soaping up my body with shampoo. Although I explained to her that shampoo was not body wash, it became evident that she also did not speak English. I had to gesture frantically for them to stop using shampoo on my body.
Because everyone by now had the nora-virus, those who could not communicate were left in their soiled nappies. The patient who lay in the bed next to me soiled his nappies in the morning and the stink was so unbearable that when my wife visited me in the afternoon, she literally ran out of the hospital after a few minutes as she couldn't stand the smell. In the evening, two orderlies debated whether they should change the man's nappies or leave it for the next shift. They decided to leave it for the next shift.
To date, I have not seen the MRI results or had a discussion with the head of neurology who was supposed to talk to me and explain my condition.
There is more but I think you get the message:
Dirty, inapt, unqualified.
I checked myself out of Calvary after a few weeks against doctor's orders. Because I was very ill due to the irresponsible mix of medication and the high dosages, I was taken to Goulburn Base hospital. Goulburn Base hospital showed kindness, took me in and I received the appropriate standard of care that Calvary did not provide. Goulburn Base hospital was clean, staff were polite, professional and they spoke English.
I'd like to sincerely thank Goulburn Base hospital for their amazing care, professionalism and for treating me like a human being.
Also, around the time of my hospitalisation at Calvary, the ACT Chief Auditor released an audit report detailing that Calvary was running at a loss. To hide the loss, Calvary cooked their books.. Are these the sort of people you trust to look after your health? More importantly: why is the government giving our money to an organisation that is not doing a proper job? Who is the contract manager for Calvary?
See: Calvary Public Hospital executive faked documents, meetings to hide $5m loss news story and you can read a press release here. The audit report can be found here.
Not Good Enough!
NO ONE CARED!
I wrote to the ACT Health Directorate in 2016 and 2017. To date, no one has got back to me. In fact, I've written to ACT Health a few times. No response. The one time someone did get back to me by phone, I asked him to put everything he told me in writing. I'm still waiting for that letter. He seemed lost, inapt, overwhelmed and not trained to resolve my query.
I tried to book myself into the Sleep Lab at Canberra hospital in 2016. I'm still waiting today. In comparison, St Vincent's in Sydney got back to me within a few days. While I've been told that Canberra has a waiting time of one to two years (WHAT?), St Vincent's in Sydney offered me a spot in two weeks - and they even offered to come to my home with a mobile unit, hook me up, and tuck me in for the night. In comparison, I was told by the guy that called me in Canberra that if I haven't heard from Canberra hospital after one year that I should reapply. Great going Canberra!
A year ago, my GP gave me a referral to see an ophthalmologist. Apart from the ACT lacking this basic service, Canberra hospital told me that I wasn't eligible but wanted to get back to me. I'm still waiting!
Overall, an unacceptable poor standard of communication and poor standard of health care!
I also wrote to Senator Zed Seselja on 6 April 2017 and walked into his office three times when he was still located on Bunda Street. I was told three times that he would respond. Zed, I'm still waiting!
Below is Zed's email confirmation.
In conclusion, the ACT evidently has a very poor and dysfunctional health system where neither Labor nor Liberals give a stuff. I may not be a fancy talker or a poser like most politicians but if you elect me,
I will work on whoever forms government so much that the ACT will build two more hospitals (Queanbeyan style) in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong, fully equipped and with properly vetted health professionals.
That means: no more travelling interstate for specialist care, such as gynecology, nephrology, ophthalmology and endocrinology.
This will be paid for by the federal government. The ACT is not an independent state with multiple revenue sources. Health in the Territory is a federal matter and since governments like to pork barrel money here and there, I'd like a barrel of money to build and staff the two hospitals, thanks.
Not Good Enough!
BULLYING IN ACT HOSPITALS?
When I arrived at Canberra hospital in 2016, one of the nurses bullied me. She wanted me to take medication although I had clearly told her that I had taken it before and it was ineffective and caused adverse reactions. She threatened that 'if I did not cooperate that the hospital had the right to refuse to treat me'. Was this a psych ward or what? Some of the other nurses standing around appeared shocked at the nurse's inappropriate pressure tactics. The things she said to me were in clear breach of the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights.
The 2016 Charter was a bit different but had similar content: my right to access health care, my right to be respected and my right to determine my treatment. Clearly, while most health professionals try really hard, it's the few dodgy ones that bring the health service into disrepute.
Canberra hospital has a history of clearly documented bullying - not just patients - but also their own staff. This must stop!
The Age: Canberra Surgeon Calls Out Bullying.
Not enough hospital beds!
The ACT has a lack of hospital beds, specialists and properly trained staff. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), in 2017–18, Australia had 3.9 beds per 1,000 population in public and private hospitals compared with an average of 4.7 beds per 1,000 population for countries analysed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Public hospital beds per 1,000 population ranged between 2.5 to 2.6 beds. Already a decade ago, the then Labor government stated that the ACT needed more hospital beds. However, the new Spire hospital scheduled to be built by 2022 will only have one-third of the beds calculated a decade earlier.
As at December 2019, the ACT's population was 427,419. According to the Chief Minister, by 2022, 450,000 people will live in the ACT which will climb to an estimated 700,000 by 2058. A simple calculation has revealed that by the time the Spire opens, we will have a shortfall of 145 beds. By 2058, the ACT will have a shortfall of 795 beds. These numbers are actually higher if one includes NSW residents in the calculation which I haven't done. Therefore, the ACT needs another medium sized hospital now or two smaller hospitals, one in the Gungahlin area and one in the Tuggeranong area.
This brings me to medical specialists, such as endocrinologists, ophthalmologists, oncologists, gynecologists etc. Why do you think I and many other Canberrans go interstate for specialist medical treatment? Not because it's fun, it's because we can't get hold of specialists in the ACT or the waiting times are ridiculously long, that includes rehabilitation, sleep labs etc.
Inquiry into Planning for the Surgical Procedures, Interventional Radiology and Emergency Centre (SPIRE) and the Canberra Hospital campus and immediate surrounds
Here we go again. The Spire inquiry released a report in August 2020 confirming what everyone already knew: we don't have enough hospital beds, even when the Spire is built. As we've all known about the poor health system in the ACT, it is appalling and evidence that the Labor Government are a poor government. Just squander money on useless art works and light rail. Don't get me wrong, I like art and trains, but Canberrans needed something else first - a better health system - period. Below is an excerpt from the report.