November 14, 2019 19:25:30
A doctor is facing removal from a leadership role at Hobart’s major hospital due to him publicly criticising senior health department managers, Labor tells Parliament — a claim branded as a “slur” by the Government, with a hospital executive saying the proposed change was due to a “streamlining” of administration.
- Professor John Burgess aired his views in a newspaper opinion piece, in which he criticised senior health department management
- The same day, he learned his role as a team leader at the hospital would likely go under a restructure
- Labor say he paid the price for “daring to speak out over the true state of the health system”
In an opinion piece published in the Mercury newspaper on Wednesday, Professor John Burgess — who is also the Australian Medical Association’s Tasmanian branch president — called for senior health managers to better support frontline health workers.
Later that day, Professor Burgess said he learned he and another doctor would be removed as co-directors of the Royal Hobart Hospital’s Critical Care, Clinical Support and Investigations leadership team, which oversees the hospital’s emergency department and intensive care unit, with the team disbanded under a new management proposal.
Professor Burgess today declined to say whether he believed the proposal was related to his public comments, but in a letter to colleagues he said he would not be silenced.
“I will naturally continue to speak up for our patients, staff and the teams that care for them, notwithstanding this having personal costs,” he wrote.
During question time in State Parliament, Opposition Leader Rebecca White accused Health Minister Sarah Courtney of punishing Professor Burgess.
“Minister, you’ve been called upon to show leadership to fix the health crisis, but this is not leadership, this is revenge,” Ms White said.
“You’ve sent a message that anyone who dares to speak out over the true state of the health system will be sacked.”
Ms Courtney strongly rejected what she described as Ms White’s “slurs” and said the decision was made by the hospital.
“Local leadership considers this is important to working on bed block and ramping and, as we know, the ED [emergency department] is facing challenges with regard to bed block,” Ms Courtney said.
“What I am doing as minister, what we are doing as government is empowering local leadership, local hospitals, to make the decisions that are right for them to make sure that we are continually seeing increases in patient care.”
Changes will aid patient flow, RHH director head says
The Royal Hobart Hospital’s executive director of operations, Susan Gannon, said the hospital was seeking feedback about a “change proposal” which aimed to streamline administration.
She said there would be no job losses under the proposal.
“These proposed changes have been developed simply to better aid and support patient flow and ultimately do everything we can as a hospital to provide better patient care,” she said.
“All roles are scheduled to be open for merit-based selection on the expiry of the current structure early next year, regardless of whether this proposed change proceeds.”
The Australian Medical Association’s vice-president, John Davis, said it was bizarre the change proposal had been floated before clinicians were consulted.
“You’d think they would have worked up a proposal in conjunction with their nursing and medical staff to consider, rather than just calling the director of a particular stream in and saying we’re going to break up your stream,” he said.
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“It would seem very clearly that what’s happened is the Department of Health and the Royal Hobart Hospital, without the Tasmania Health Service being involved, have decided this stream will go.”
Independent Clark MP Andrew Wilkie also slammed the decision, describing it as “an outrageous response for nothing more than Professor Burgess pointing out the obvious.”
November 14, 2019 18:24:25
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