Public Servants Beat O’Farrel and Democracy Again

I sent this letter to Barry O’Farrel, MP, Premier of NSW. Considering the serious accusatiojns it made against NSW public servants, I expected a response that made some mention. The response did not, just my health issues, that I expect to be ignored. I hope I can scan the reply and append it to the end of this post.

Mr Barry O’Farrel, MP
27 Redleaf Ave
Wahroonga NSW 2076
2 May 2011

Dear Sir

In her farewell statement after the March election, Kristina Keneally said that the electorate had not deserted Labor, but Labor had deserted the electorate. She meant something else, but she was ironically so true. A few days earlier, a newspaper columnist had said Labor deserved to lose, since the government had spent the past several years partying instead of governing.

The truth was that since 2009, NSW had been controlled by blackmail, conspiracy, intimidation and incompetence by sections of the Public Service. For example, currently, HealthNSW knows how easily it could have reduced deaths in NSW public hospitals (due to hospital-acquired infections) by about 10,000 per year, since at least 2002, through an improvement in hygiene that would cost very little but save several billions per year in treatment costs. But just make one minister avoid mentioning this, and the blackmail begins.

We saw Della Bosca not prosecuted by the DPP for breaching the Oaths Act over “Iguanagate” in exchange for Rudd not cutting back on the Federal Public Service, then we saw him set up by the Public Service when he announced his 100-day plan to clean up the hospital system. We saw David Campbell set up the day before he planned to reveal which public servants were to blame for the 12-hour F3 fiasco. We saw thousands of dollars of police surveillance thrown away just so Verity Firth’s husband could be caught buying a single ecstasy ill. We have seen a number of politicians hauled before the public servants’ own court, the ICAC. We have seen public servants mishandle grossly government projects, such as the BER and building less shoddy public housing in NSW. And we have seen a number of politicians making decisions that would make their post-political lives wealthier.

The US CDC announced a 50% decrease in hospital-acquired infections, for only a 25% increase in handwashing, in a study published in 2001. A few years later, Austin Hospital in Melbourne found that spending $7000 per year on a nurse to oversee hygiene practices saved about $1.2 million annually. Two years ago, HealthNSW did it own study, that showed similar results to the CDC study, but only for non-invasive treatments (and for that reason, decided better hygiene was “too hard” to manage).

In financial terms, by spending less than $10 million hiring retired senior nurses to work part-time to guarantee the following of hygiene protocols and develop new ones for invasive procedures, HealthNSW would have over one billion dollars a year in treatment costs, and require no more hiring of general nurses. As well, enough spare beds would be made so that saved money could slash waiting lists and save 5-10,000 lives annually.

All the bureaucracy needs to control the government is to convince one senior politician to expediently do nothing, and then that politician and his/her power is permanently suborned by fear of criminal sanction.

After being under HealthNSW care for two months (top), and just before.
I was admitted to Liverpool Hospital on January 19th, 2007, in a semicomatose condition. After six hours, during which I suffered lung failure, I was choppered to intensive care at Bankstown Hospital. While the doctors were trying to diagnose me, my heart stopped. Blood tests revealed I had kidney failure, and liver failure, due top severe legionella sepsis that was partly resistant to antibiotics. My kidney failure was so severe that I needed four dialysis sessions to bring my blood back to some semblance of normality.

I spent four weeks in a coma, all on breathing support and dialysis. I was not expected to live to the end of the first week.

Unfortunately, my body weight was underestimated, and this together with the wrong diet and a high fever seemed to have caused some oxygen deprivation, mainly affecting the hindbrain and the lower system. When I was first exercised after regaining consciousness, I was both severely wasted and crippled. The former I survived, but the latter has not improved. The hospital offered no reason for my disability, but said I would return to normal within a three months. A transfer to a physiotherapy hospital was arranged by my sister, but the hospital refused. I later discovered it was because I had contracted MRSA while in the coma, and no other hospital would admit me (but I was not told any of this at the time).
When Bankstown refused to discharge me, I forced the issue and it relented on March 22nd. A few weeks later my GP sent me for an NMRI scan that revealed I had neural atrophy that was causing my disability, and it was not curable. I posted my discharge sheet on my blog, and a doctor from the UK NHS said the treatment I had been given was typical for VISA (now known as multi-resistant MRSA).  I began online and other personal research into hospital hygiene, discovered how this might have happened. But both Bankstown Hospital and the HCCC said there was no record of me having MRSA.

I was contacted by an Australian MRSA sufferer (who was infected while having back surgery) who said his doctor would not even order a blood test to see if he still had MRSA, and he could only get medical treatment by presenting himself at the Emergency Departments of different hospitals. In September 2007, my carer assaulted me when Housing refused to even  try to find me accommodation (she had been told I would only be in her care for three months). When I went to Fairfield Hospital to be treated for three cracked ribs and severe internal injuries, I mentioned I might have had MRSA, and the doctor treating me said that it was policy to not allow anyone who might have MRSA to be admitted. A few days later I had to be taken back to Fairfield by ambulance because my internal injuries had become painfully inflamed. I was placed in a single room, and only stayed overnight because the staff could find no one to take me home.

Finally, through the intercession of Ninos Koshaba with the Minister for Housing, the Fairfield Allocation Team was bypassed and a disabled residence suitable for me was built in October 2008, , part of the privately built complex purchased by Housing while under construction. Housing Fairfield did not like this.

In March 2009 I was admitted to Liverpool Hospital for respite (90 minutes home assistance each two weeks was not enough). After five days I was approached by a nurse who asked me if I had been cleared by Bankstown of MRSA. When I replied this had not done, I was moved to an isolated room and the cleaners given special anti-infection instructions to prevent me infecting the ward. No precautions were taken to protect other hospital patients, just some of the nursing staff. It was also at this time I learned that hospital doctors kept separate computer records to those they completed for the hospital.

My discharge papers from Liverpool mentioned neither the degree of my disabilities nor the actions taken to not allow me to spread the MRSA I might still have. Also, no tests of any kind were done to see if I still had MRSA. Three separate assessments argued I needed six free hours of home care each week in order to keep me out of a nursing home, but CatholicCare could only manage to get me 90 minutes a week from HACC.

I received a copy of a reply from the SSWAHS to the HCCC, with a hastily inserted paragraph saying that I had been found to be inexplicably infected with MRSA towards the end of my coma. But the letter did not explain why I was put under such strict infection control procedures for the MRAB I was told I had instead (which in my case was virtually impossible to get in Australia), and did not need strict infection control procedures.

The HCCC did nothing about being lied to, and the last word I received from them was that Bankstown said I should stop whining about being crippled, but be thankful I was alive.

A firm of solicitors approached me about my problems, after my discharge from Liverpool. While they wrote back, they said they could not take action on the basis of my medical records from Bankstown. But I was given a copy of most of the pertinent medical records from Bankstown and Liverpool.

I wrote to the Health Minister, John Della Bosca, but he was not told of my letter. Instead, Joe Tripodi hand-delivered a letter outlining my problems to him. Della Bosca wrote back to me, explaining he had told GILD to see what compensation for being crippled I should get.

I also wrote to Centrelink, asking for a medical assessment. This was refused on the grounds it would invade my privacy. So officially, I am not severely disabled and therefore denied the various types of assistance, including financial help to cover my increased costs. At least NSW Health and Disability is subsidising my 90 minutes per week cleaning help, and the RTA has accepted my doctor’s statement that I am mobility-impaired.

Shortly thereafter, I asked Housing Fairfield to install extra safety rails in the bathroom, as the ones installed by the builder were not adequate. Fairfield asked the SSWAHS to assess my needs, but Health replied to the Housing Campbelltown office, and nothing happened until I made additional representations threee months later. Then the Health assessor visited me twice, to confirm that I had not been crippled before I entered Bankstown Hospital, or that any medication I was on would make me crippled, before permission to install the safety rails was granted. I still do not have any protection from falling of the back porch onto the ground.

On October 20th, 2009, I wrote to Carmel Tebbutt, at her electoral office, outlining my problems and my previous actions. She never saw the letter, nor did her Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Dr Andrew Mc.Donald, who replied on  21st December 2009 to me with nothing but a litany of lies (including the supposed actions of GILD) that could have only been written by a public servant. I waited until September 2010 for action, before complaining that nothing had been done. I never received an answer.

The only good news I have is that I have been lent the old car owned by my nephew, since I can’t afford the taxi subsidy I now must only pay to visit medical people in places I cannot park. In October, I will have to find the money to reregister the car, or suffer imprisonment.

I have been a cripple for more than four years. It took two years of that time to finally get a Housing place where I could live independently. But is costs more to live as a cripple than the government pays. Does it make sense to you that my housing subsidy of $7000 per year would be increased to $7000 per week if I went into a high-dependency nursing home, to be in a virtual prison? In fact, I’d be better off if I had myself gaoled, since then I would have the run of the prison hospital, and a wheelchair I can’t afford to buy.

I am tired of being a cripple, and taking several times longer to do things that I can do. I am tired that I have been thrice assessed as needing six hours per week home help, paid for by the State, since thne State crippled me, and I don’t have the money. I am tired of Bankstown Hospital refusing to recognise my severe disabilities as happening while under its care. I am tired of being refused hospital treatment because I was infected with MRSA at Bankstown and other hospitals do not care to admit patients if they know they have had MRSA.

I am tired of being under continual medical, psychological and financial stress, and having to depend on charity because no one cares to take responsibility for making me a cripple. And the charity seems to have reached its limits. I am tired of having my life recklessly endangered because public servants, such as HealthNSW’s Ian Smyth, believe that a few hundred lives lost to hospital acquired infections is “a minor matter” (on a TV news report late last year).

In your speech after the March election, you said you planned to leave a legacy to NSW. Is this a legacy where politicians obey public servants at the costs of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, or one where politicians work for the benefit of the electorate?

Neville Angove


About alarchdu

This blog is just a stream of consciousness. I was severely crippled in 2007, and these are the thoughts generated as I think on this.
This entry was posted in Health and wellness, MRSA, News and politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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