Page 1984 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 5 June 2018
I recollect asking questions about the risk register at the time. The minister tells me that that is the risk register for the hospital. But that does not cover things like infection control, failure of the power, or failure if the system goes down. There are a whole lot of other risks apart from the physical structure of the building. The minister has admitted that they do not have a proper risk register and the first approach to a risk register came when the AECOM report was published.
The minister talks about committing to enabling a culture of quality and safety, one that “demonstrates the principles of risk management through proactive, timely identification and reporting of risks by all staff and including risk in the planning, implementation and maintenance phases of all ACT Health systems, processes, policies and procedures”.
Madam Speaker, I ask you: how can we do that when we have a culture of bullying and a culture of fear in the hospitals? I cannot tell you the number of times that members of the public who happen to be employed in the health department come to me and say, “I need to tell you this, but you need to maintain my anonymity, because if anyone ever knew that I had spoken about this, my life would not be worth living.” That happens over and over again. That is a culture of bullying. That is a culture that does not enable people to speak up and say, “Hey, I think we have a risk here.”
When the nurses and midwives in the women’s and children’s hospital speak out through an anonymous letter to say, “We are concerned about the safety of women and babies in our hospital,” they are talked down; no-one takes them seriously. That is why they were driven to making a public, anonymous statement: because the agency that this minister oversees talks them down. The head of the agency came out and said, “There is nothing to see here; this is a perfectly safe hospital.”
The midwives who work there disagree; the midwives who talk to me disagree. The people who work in the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, in maternity services, who are not midwives but who are there frequently, disagree and are afraid for the safety of women and children. When people are afraid for the safety of women and children, they should feel empowered to speak up, and they are not empowered to speak up.
The minister can speak all she likes about zero tolerance of bullying. I notice she also has zero tolerance of messing up our pathology labelling. There are a lot of things we need to have zero tolerance for. Damn straight we should have zero tolerance for messing up labelling on pathology samples. With everything the minister talks about, she says, “I have zero tolerance for it.” But she does not do anything about it except to say she has zero tolerance. She does not empower midwives to speak up about things that she is concerned about. She does not create an environment where people do not mess up on labelling of pathology samples.
Think about it, Madam Speaker. I will be criticised for talking down the health system, but when we have less than 80 per cent compliance with the observance of post-operative surgical safety checklists, I think that we should be very concerned about the quality of our hospital. Think about it. “I wonder what I did with that spare