Page 488 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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the Sydney Morning Herald of 23 February written by Richard Macey entitled “Idle reactor keeps sick waiting for treatment”, which states:

A doctor specialising in nuclear medicine, who asked not to be named, described the problems caused by delays in getting radiopharmaceuticals as “significant”.

“We have had to prioritise who needs a scan urgently.”

Delays, for example, could force the postponement of the chemotherapy for cancer patients who first needed a heart scan to ensure they could cope with the treatment.

“We are supposed to be a first world nation, not a third world one.”

That is something else the minister is in denial about. She says I make these things up. I certainly do not; it is other people who say that. It is their view, not necessarily my view, that counts.

Ms Gallagher: You think it’s a third world system, do you, Jacqui?

MRS BURKE: If the minister is not listening to the people who are speaking, then she is denying them and she is in denial herself. The minister announced a delivery of a new MRI machine, but the day after was unaware, as I have just said, of concerns surrounding a lack of radiopharmaceutical supplies due to the Lucas Heights reactor being shut down last August.

Plastic surgeons in Canberra have now made the decision not to undertake key work considering it too high risk, simply because this minister failed to act on key problems I raised in this place last year. Family members of a chemotherapy patient had to go on television not once but twice to obtain justice from a system that failed their father, even though the minister promised to include them in a clinical review. Then she had the audacity to proceed to blame the family because they did not contact her. If the system is working well, why do whole families have to go on television and complain before the minister acts? Why do nurses and surgeons and doctors continue to contact my office and other members of the opposition regarding the fact that they are not being listened to?

I add at this point that I will continue to work with the Health Services Commissioner. The minister clearly does not want to hear anything I have to say and does not believe anything I say, so I will continue to work with the commissioner. She will get my next report in due course.

All of this points to one thing—systemic management and ministerial failure. The opposition has already put forward a situation, for example, for better management practices in relation to the establishment of hospital boards, which the mover of this motion, Mr Mulcahy, alluded to this morning. Our front-line staff do an amazing job, but, more than ever before, they need a minister who will do more to stand up for them and stop the covering up of serious issues. I was told that by a nurse yesterday. She is very, very disappointed.

Ms Gallagher: What do you mean?

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