Friday, January 30, 2009

Bone idle police again

This story is from the Northern Territory but it reflects my own experience with the Queensland police. When I gave the police an ID card from one of the people who had stolen my car, they were not interested -- because the person concerned had no "record". One wonders how you get a "record" in that case. The police are mainly interested in very easy work -- such as lurking at the bottom of hills to catch unwary motorists who naturally speed up in such places. It takes publicity to get them off their fat behinds

A thief left a crucial piece of evidence - his mobile phone containing all his personal details - at the scene of an attempted burglary. But police are yet to interview the man, despite the owner of the business targeted passing on the phone and all of the offender's details more than a month ago. Text messages on the phone even indicated plans of a possible heist. One message was sent asking the recipient if they had any bolt cutters. Another gave the Darwin address as to where to pick him up from at 11pm.

QAL Transport owner-manager Ken Conlon said it was ridiculous the thief and his co-offenders were allowed to commit crimes and still walk the streets. He is now threatening his own vigilante justice. "It is just amazing - all the information is there in their (police) hands," he said. "I thought they would have got these bludgers by now and they haven't. "I have all their phone numbers, I know their addresses and I have his bank details. I even have a good description of the car they were in and the registration number. "How much more information do the police need?" Mr Conlan said police had told him that his case was not a priority as the alleged offenders had no prior offences.

When the Northern Territory News asked NT Police about the matter yesterday, police said they were investigating. "Evidence left at the scene has been examined by investigators and a number of persons of interest have been identified, which members of the Commander's Tactical Team are following up on," police said in a statement. "Investigators prioritise their investigations in order of severity or links with crime series."

The now phoneless thief and two co-offenders broke into the QAL Transport depot on Nebo Rd, Berrimah, about 1.30am on December 23. A truck driver for the company arrived at the headquarters to start his early morning shift and interrupted the trio as they scoured a courier van on the premises filled with alcohol and cigarettes. Mr Conlon said the would-be thieves quickly scampered off into the darkness, jumping through a hole they had cut in the back wire fence and fleeing in a car. He said the thieves had stacked up a pile of spirits and cigarettes but left empty handed, thanks to the truck driver arriving when he did. Mr Conlon said police had not even interviewed or taken a statement from his driver. "I don't want to criticise the cops as they have a tough job, but if I went and stole $20 from the post office down the road they would be arresting me straight away," he said.


The Greenie menace at work again: Water tanks help spread of dengue fever

Because Greenies go ballistic at plans to build dams, politicians are very slow to build them. So we have water shortages. And the very expensive "solution" to that -- promoted by the government -- is for each house to have its own rainwater tank. Talk about "drought" below is a coverup. It rains every couple of days where I live -- which must be the world's strangest "drought" -- but we still have severe restrictions on water usage and subsidies for people to buy household tanks. But the cost of the tanks is not the only problem:

Backyard water tanks, a key weapon for Australian households in the battle against drought and climate change, may prove a double-edged sword if they help the mosquito that spreads dengue fever to penetrate deep into southern and inland Australia. Melbourne researchers who set out to measure how much further the dengue mosquito might spread as the climate heats up discovered that water hoarding by households was likely to prove a much bigger help to the insect. The species responsible for spreading dengue in Australia, Aedes aegypti, is largely confined to Townsville, Cairns and Queensland's far north, where two outbreaks of dengue are continuing to worsen.

There have now been 198 confirmed cases of dengue fever in Cairns and 21 in Townsville, according to figures released last night. The Townsville outbreak is particularly alarming because two of the four types of dengue are circulating simultaneously, raising the risk that someone will suffer a potentially fatal second infection.

Scientists from Melbourne University say climate change and evolutionary adaptation are making more of Australia habitable for the insect, but human behaviours may be smoothing the mosquito's path even more. "While we predict that climate change will directly increase habitat suitability throughout much of Australia, the potential indirect impact of changed water storage practices by humans in response to drought may have a greater effect," the authors write.

Lead researcher and zoology lecturer Michael Kearney said there had been a "dramatic increase" in domestic rainwater storage in response to drought. "Water tanks and other water storage vessels, such as modified wheelie bins, are potential breeding sites for this disease-bearing mosquito," Dr Kearney said. "Without due water-storage hygiene, this indirect effect of climate change via human adaptation could dramatically re-expand the mosquito's range." Dr Kearney said the findings did not mean water tanks should be avoided. Instead, it was important for householders to realise the tanks should be properly sealed to prevent mosquito access, which meant avoiding improvised or badly made tanks and opting for versions that met Australian standards. "Australian-standard water tanks have brass mesh protecting the inlet and outlet valves, which are less likely to degrade," he said.

About 100 years ago, Aedes aegypti was more widespread, being found in Darwin and Broome, along the east coast as far south as Sydney, inland to Bourke and even in Perth. Its range diminished through the last decades of the 20th century for reasons not well understood, but Dr Kearney said his team's work suggested the removal of old galvanised water tanks and installation of town water supplies may have helped.

The invention of insecticides and even lawnmowers may also have played a part by encouraging householders to keep gardens under better control and to clear away discarded pots and other receptacles that could provide the mosquito with a place to lay eggs.

Queensland Institute of Medical Research's Tim Hurst has studied water storage in Brisbane households and how this might affect mosquito breeding. "About 50 per cent of the houses we surveyed have rainwater tanks, but about 30 per cent of those are collecting water in other containers -- such as buckets and wheelie bins," he said. [You would do that too if you were forbidden by law to water your garden]


Church schools to be allowed to ban homosexual staff in South Australia

CHURCH schools will retain the right to refuse to employ gay teachers in South Australia under a watering-down of proposed anti-discrimination laws. Religious schools also will retain the right to prevent students, who belong to a non Christian religion, from wearing the dress or adornments of that religion at school.

The new Bill, which replaces a controversial 2006 Bill, gives employers a loophole under which they can refuse to employ people wearing religious dress, such as burkas, by allowing them to set "reasonable" standards of workplace dress. Proposed legislation to make the changes is set down for debate when Parliament resumes on Tuesday. That follows nearly three years of debate and intense behind-the-scenes negotiations between Labor and the Opposition.

Under the old Bill, church schools wanting an exemption to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality were required to lodge a copy of their policy with the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity and make it available to current and prospective staff, students and parents. That has been watered down so schools only will need to have a written policy available on inquiry and publish it on their website if they have one. Other proposed changes include:

RAISING the age limit from 12 to 16 under which a student can make a formal sexual harassment complaint.

DROPPING a proposed unlawful act of victimisation if a person were to "engage in a public act inciting hatred, serious contempt or severe ridicule of a person or group".

DELETING part of the Bill which made it an offence to discriminate on the grounds of where a person lived.

LIMITING discrimination on the grounds of caring responsibilities to those looking after immediate family members while the original Bill had a much wider coverage.

Opposition justice spokeswoman Isobel Redmond said the Liberals, who supported large sections of the original Bill, would decide their position at a shadow cabinet meeting next week.



Three current news reports below

Big deal: NSW hospital death "not from lack of beds or staff"

But it obviously WAS due to insufficient diagnostic testing -- scans etc. There is no reason why diagnostic imaging could not have been done same day. That was once routine and still is in some hospitals

The NSW Government has apologised to the family of a man who died a day after being discharged from hospital, but says his death was not due to a lack of beds or medical staff. Brendan Burns, 24, was discharged from Griffith Base Hospital on Monday with a bad headache and died the following day at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital from an undiagnosed brain tumour. Greater Southern Area Health Service (GSAHS) Chief Executive Heather Gray yesterday said the matter was being investigated, and would also be referred to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

Health Minister John Della Bosca today apologised to Mr Burns' family but said his death was not linked to staffing levels nor patient capacity at Griffith. "I extend my commiserations to his family, I feel deeply sorry that this has happened," Mr Della Bosca said. "All the evidence I have is that there was a great deal of professional skill involved in the handling of the case. "My advice is there was no bed shortage ... there was no staff shortage."

GSAHS said the man arrived at Hay Hospital on Sunday and was transferred to Griffith Base Hospital on Monday. He was discharged in the early hours of Monday, went home and returned to Hay Hospital that same morning. Later on Monday, the man was flown from Hay Hospital to St Vincent's where he died on Tuesday.


Woman left lying in agony on NSW hospital floor

Tammy Hams thought she was "going to die" when she was offered a blanket and told to lie on a waiting room floor because staff at her local hospital could not find her a bed. Ms Hams was booked in for surgery at Wyong Hospital to remove possible cancerous lesions when doctors discovered a huge abscess causing "agonising pain". The 29-year-old said she spent 3« hours writhing in agony on the waiting room floor of the hospital's surgical ward on Wednesday before she was eventually given a bed. Staff at the hospital "categorically deny" her claims. [But see picture above]

The incident comes amid yet another hospital outrage, in which a 24-year-old man was discharged from Griffith Hospital early on Monday after complaining of sinus pain. The following day he again presented to the hospital and was flown immediately to Sydney's St Vincent's where he died from unknown causes. Greater Southern Health has launched an investigation into why he was discharged. And in Dubbo, doctors are threatening to quit because they routinely run out of basic medications.

Ms Hams said her GP had been trying to get her into hospital since Friday when she began feeling stabbing pains in her stomach. A biopsy four months ago revealed pre-cancerous lesions on her cervix, which if left would turn cancerous. "I thought I was going to die," Ms Hams told The Daily Telegraph yesterday from her hospital bed. "I have never been in that much pain in my life - it was agony."

She was booked-in for a hysterectomy and told to arrive at 9am. Her mother Jenny Leatham said she was "crying and doubled-over in pain" and could not sit on the waiting room chairs or stand, so they pleaded for a bed. "They gave her a blanket and said the best she could do was lie on the floor," Mr Leatham said. "The staff were so nice and you could see they were upset about what was happening. This is just unfair, I'm not rubbishing the staff. There just wasn't enough beds. "The system has to change."

A North Sydney Central Coast Health spokeswoman said an investigation found there was no shortage of beds and Ms Hams was "treated in a caring and timely manner". "It is unacceptable for a patient to be expected to lie on the floor and staff on duty when Ms Hams arrived at the hospital deny making any such recommendation," the spokeswoman said. The hospital argues she was assessed by an anaesthetist at 10.10am and that she asked for the blanket.

Mrs Leatham said by 12.30pm staff found her daughter a bed and she was operated on at 2pm. When surgeons cut her open they discovered a huge abscess pushing on her cervix. Unable to perform the hysterectomy they removed as much of the infection as they could and inserted a tube to drain it over the next seven to 10 days.

"If the abscess had burst while she was in the waiting room she would have died," Mrs Leatham said.

Wyong Hospital is just one of the state's many hospitals plagued with debt, bed shortages and a lack of specialist doctors. Last week its emergency department - one of the busiest in the state - lost all but one of its specialist doctors to Gosford Hospital so it could retain its status as a teaching hospital.

Senior doctors at Dubbo Base Hospital threatened to walk off the job after they ran out of morphine because the hospital could not afford to pay pharmaceutical companies. Patients in intensive care also sweltered for days in record temperatures because contractors could not be paid to fix the air conditioning.

The Greater Western Area Health Service reportedly owes more than $23 million to suppliers. Many are no longer prepared to provide food or medical equipment. The situation across the state is expected to get far worse before it gets any better. A report by auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers last month revealed the state's health budget would blow out by as much as $900 million by March if dramatic changes were not made.


Queensland public hospitals have worst record for killing, maiming patients, botched operations

Queensland Health is a most obnoxious bureaucracy to work for so they are able to attract high quality staff in relatively small numbers only. The rest are often the dregs with nowhere else to go -- and it shows in the quality of their work

QUEENSLAND hospitals have the nation's worst published record for killing or maiming their patients through botched operations, medication errors and other mistakes. And NSW is one of the safest, reporting a third fewer serious errors despite its larger population.

The figures, released in a Productivity Commission report, provide a rare state-by-state breakdown of so-called "sentinel events" - the most preventable and potentially deadly mistakes that occur every year in the nation's hospitals, The Australian reports. Last year, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care reported that sentinel events - ranging from discharging an infant to the wrong family to suicides by admitted patients - more than doubled nationally in 2006-07 compared with a year earlier.

The mistakes accounted for just 10 per cent of serious hospital errors recorded by the states and territories but made public only selectively. But of the 187 deadly or damaging lapses in judgment or procedure made public yesterday, Queensland accounted for over a quarter of the national total.

Its hospitals carried out procedures on the wrong patient or body part an alarming 33 times in 2006-07. They killed another six patients through medication errors, seriously injured or killed four mothers in childbirth, left surgical instruments or material inside three patients, and transfused incompatible blood once.

The next worst offender was Victoria (45), which was slammed by its Auditor-General last year for failing to adequately monitor hospital blunders. Some 135,000 patients - or one in 10 public hospital patients - in that state had endured a medical mistake, with more errors believed to have gone unreported. South Australia, with 36 sentinel events, was next in line, followed by NSW (32), Western Australia (15), the ACT (7), the Northern Territory (2) and Tasmania (1).

"A high number of sentinel events may indicate hospital systems and process deficiencies that compromise the quality and safety of public hospitals," the Productivity Commission said. The willingness to report major mistakes could also influence the totals, it noted.


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