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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 637 ..

is critically important not just for the confidence in our health system but, indeed, for the ability of the health system to properly function.

It is worth first quoting Dr Liz Gallagher, who worked at the hospital until 2008 when she resigned. She says:

I was starting to lose sleep, I was starting to not want to go in and I just felt it was not in my best interest to continue working there.

Dr Gallagher says she previously raised concerns about bullying with the hospital’s general manager, and she is relieved workplace issues will be investigated. She says:

My hope for that outcome would be that people can tell their stories so that their grievances can be heard and listened to which I think that has been a problem in the past.

It is worth reflecting on that. Why has that been a problem? We have had people coming to us and saying, for whatever reason, that they are concerned about speaking out but that they have issues. The minister acknowledges that there has been a war going on for a number of years, and Dr Gallagher says that they want to be listened to but they have not felt that they could speak out. Well, why not?

One of the things we need to get to the bottom of is why a culture has been allowed to exist under the leadership of this government, this minister, for the past several years which has caused a significant number of people within this system to feel they cannot speak out, to feel they cannot raise their grievances, to feel they cannot raise their concerns. For senior doctors to be saying that should be a concern to all of us.

Dr Gallagher goes on to say about what she hopes will come:

And also that there is new process put in place within ACT Health and the structure of the hospital to actually deal with the people’s grievances in a much better way than has been done over the last few years.

Dr Andrew Foote from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that the reviews will give doctors the chance to tell their harrowing stories of going on antidepressants and crying. Dr Foote says he hopes the maternity unit can now move forward:

I would hope that the workplace is turned around and that it becomes a supportive environment where people want to work.

I have got no doubt about the goodwill of a number of players within this, and I am sure that that is true of people who, in some cases, will find themselves on opposite sides of the fight. But simply because there are two sides to every story is not a good enough reason to simply dismiss the claims. That was, unfortunately, I think, what we saw earlier on in the piece from the minister. We heard the harrowing personal stories in terms of some bad outcomes and the allegations that were raised there. They are serious allegations and they need to be very carefully considered. We do not know, because we have not been told, exactly what processes have been followed there and what legal processes are going on, but they need to be very carefully looked at.

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