Monday, July 12, 2010

Girl lucky to survive public hospital negligence

They "economized" by repeatedly refusing to order a badly needed brain scan. I go to a private hospital and if I think I need a scan for anything I get one promptly, no argument. Public medicine is dangerous to your health -- JR

A TEENAGE girl almost died from a brain infection after a hospital refused to believe she was critically ill and told her she must be pregnant.

Kate Newton, 16, had to be resuscitated in the emergency department after suffering a heart attack. She was then rushed to an operating theatre, where neurosurgeons bored a hole in her skull to release the fluid that had been killing her.

Kate's memory of her nightmare is vague, but she is furious with Melbourne's Casey Hospital. "When you have headaches, the first thing you think of is your head," she said. "But they tried to tell me I was pregnant, then sent me home with a urine infection. "I had migraines. I could not stand light or noise, and was vomiting non-stop for a week. "If they had admitted me they would have found what I had, but they didn't want to scan me," she said.

Southern Health is investigating its handling of the case.

Kate's mother took her to the hospital on June 3 when her agonising headaches became unbearable. Kate was told she must be pregnant, despite her denials. A test revealed a urinary infection. She was given intravenous fluids and sent home with antibiotics; pleas for a brain scan were refused.

Two days later, her headaches worsening, she returned to hospital and was diagnosed with vertigo. Requests for brain scans were again refused.

On June 9 she was unable to get out of bed, balance or tolerate light. Her mother Anne called the Royal Children's Hospital and was told to call an ambulance immediately.

A brain scan at Dandenong Hospital revealed she was at serious risk, and she was rushed to Monash Medical Centre. On arrival she had a heart attack and had to be resuscitated. "It was horrible," Ms Newton said. "Her sister Ashley rode with her in the ambulance, and saw her die.

"Then the neurosurgeon said 'I have minutes to get her to surgery to save her life. "Even after the first lot of surgery, they weren't confident that she would survive. "And I was so angry and so frustrated that this happened to my daughter, when it could have been prevented."

The Narre Warren South teen spent days in intensive care and had further surgery. She still suffers from short-term memory loss and dizzy spells, and does not have full feeling back in her body.

A Southern Health spokesman said it believed the symptoms Kate first presented with had later changed, and that her care had been appropriate. "We understand the distress of the young woman and her family," he said.

"On 9th June ... her symptoms were quite different [I guess that being at death's door is indeed "different". But is that what needs to happen before you get any interest taken in your condition?], and a CT scan indicated that she should be transferred to Southern Health's Monash Medical Centre, where she was treated immediately by an appropriate specialist team."


Same old, same old arrogant and bumbling Labor Party

Gillard is just a new face on old policies

SO now we know. The Gillard government, on the evidence we have seen so far, is much the same as the Rudd government.

It is prone to springing grand policy initiatives on an unsuspecting electorate without even bothering to talk to those affected by the decision.

What inevitably follows is a period of chaos and backdowns. In the final dog days of his failing prime ministership, Kevin Rudd self-servingly put his unpopularity down to the fact he was pursuing difficult reforms. The truth is he was replaced precisely for the opposite reason: his predilection for splendid but unilateral visions that were never realised.

You would think Gillard would have learned that lesson. Apparently not.

East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta now knows how Australia's smaller mining companies feel: aggrieved at being the subject of a major government announcement that will directly affect them without even the barest of consideration or conversation.

Both the proposed Indian Ocean solution to a breakdown in control over our maritime borders and the super-profits side deal with big miners that left smaller operators out in the cold will require clean-up operations that leave Gillard Labor looking just as it did under Rudd: vulnerable when it comes to process.

A genuinely troubled ALP caucus, which wielded a terrible knife in order to bring down a first-term prime minister, was, at the very least, expecting Gillard to do better on the implementation front. Instead they are getting the same quick fixes as in the Rudd era; the miners win hugely with a 40 per cent tax rate, which Wayne Swan declared to be immutable, cut to an effective 22 per cent.

Now Gillard must talk her way out of another botched process: her rushed claim East Timor would likely be willing to house an offshore facility for asylum-seekers intercepted on the high seas and headed to Australia.

Having initially failed in effect to talk to anyone in East Timor constitutionally capable of saying yes to her proposition, Gillard was left looking like a regional bully boy, hovering menacingly over our tiny neighbour: a left-wing prime minister driven by dual demands from the electorate and the factional masters who delivered her the job for a shift to the Right on boatpeople. She also needs to get to an election sooner rather than later in order to cash in on her honeymoon period.

Once again voters are left asking the same question that in the end defined and destroyed Rudd: what does Gillard stand for?

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt wants an answer to the same question. With Gillard announcing the appointment of Tony Burke as Minister for Sustainable Population and simultaneously abandoning Rudd's commitment to a big Australia, Hunt wants to know where she stands on the issue of nuclear power.

Hunt demands Gillard and Burke acknowledge there cannot be a debate about the rate of population increase in this country without also dealing with the question of baseload power, especially with some sort of carbon reduction regime in the offing, no matter who wins the election.

At the last election Labor ran a brutally effective campaign in all marginal coastal seats, warning a re-elected Howard government would build a water-dependent nuclear power station in their backyard.

Hunt's challenge to Gillard is to abandon this political hysteria and engage in a decent policy debate on the issue.

Around the world, Centre-Left leaders such as Barack Obama have responded to climate change by commissioning new nuclear plants. Centre-Right political climate activists such as Nicolas Sarkozy in France, David Cameron in Britain and Angela Merkel in Germany all support the role of nuclear energy. By comparison, the debate is less mature in Australia. Labor, for political advantage, attacks nuclear energy while increasing Australia's export uranium mining: indeed, it was Environment Minister Peter Garrett who approved the new Beverley uranium mine.

Hunt put his plans to the BCA on the eve of Gillard's bloodless dispatch of Rudd. His conclusion was prescient: in the meantime, said Hunt, it was likely to fall to a different Labor leader (than Rudd) who actually cared about climate change to sit down with the Liberal Party and negotiate a consensus on the issue.

Were Gillard to do that she could put a full stop to the argument that she simply represents a continuation of Rudd's reputation for political quick fixes by embracing real reform that matters to Australia's future. Don't hold your breath, though. Greg Hunt certainly isn't.


Schools fleeced as red tape leads to waste

MANY public schools are overpaying when buying goods through government-endorsed delivery channels. The overpayments run to hundreds of dollars - and in some cases thousands - each year.

An investigation by The Australian has found wastage in education departments is not isolated to the $16.2 billion schools stimulus building program. Public schools are being overcharged for products from projectors and calculators to refrigerators. The problem appears worst in NSW, where the state government collects a fee of up to 2.5 per cent on all items purchased by government departments - and public schools - through its Smartbuy procurement program.

A survey by The Australian has found many products offered through Smartbuy can be bought on the open market for less than those prices offered through the government scheme.

Government supplier Corporate Express is quoting $1708 for a 564-litre, LG refrigerator. An identical item is advertised online for $1276, including delivery. Another Smartbuy supplier is quoting the Bison AMP-1715 wireless projector to schools at $2905. The same product is advertised at $2499, including delivery. All prices and quotes include GST.

NSW public school principals must purchase all items through Smartbuy - regardless of their value - unless they provide the Education Department with details of the product, and the department approves each request.

NSW Education Department spokesman Liam Thorpe said: "We ask schools to notify us of cheaper products they have found so we can check they're the same size, same warranty and that there are no additional costs. If the product is the same, the school can purchase it."

The Public Schools Principals Forum, which is calling for centralised procurement to be scrapped, said the additional red tape meant schools rarely opted to purchase outside the program. "The (NSW) Education Department is saying it doesn't trust principals to do the right thing, that the department knows better than principals do when it comes to school requirements," said forum chairwoman Cheryl McBride.

The federal opposition said last week a Coalition government would give school principals more autonomy, including more financial independence from state bureaucracy.

Mr Thorpe said NSW government schools purchased goods worth $12.5 million through Smartbuy in the first 11 months of last financial year.

A major supplier to NSW public schools is OfficeMax Australia, which sends schools a catalogue. The Australian has found many of the items in its catalogue can be bought for substantially less elsewhere. The Canon Tx-220TS calculator quoted at $29.98 can be found online for $24.33. The Raffles medium-back executive chair offered for $371.81 is $315 at Allgood Office Furniture. Both prices include GST and a three-year warranty.

OfficeMax has repeatedly refused to comment when contacted by The Australian in recent weeks.

When asked about the widespread cost differences, the NSW Department of Services Technology and Administration, which operates Smartbuy for all state government departments, said it was unable to comment on "commercial decisions made by individual suppliers".

"The prices for goods and services in state contracts are based on those included in competitive tender offers, and they factor in considerations such as delivery, warranty and compliance with government policy," a spokesman said. "The majority of state contracts have a clause that provides for NSW procurement to request suppliers to vary their prices if there is evidence that external market pricing is consistently more competitive."

He said an independent review for the 2008-09 financial year had estimated that $360m in "cost avoidance savings" were delivered across all NSW government departments from the use of state contracts. It was unclear how that figure was derived.

Ms McBride said such studies failed to account for the suitability of products delivered to schools and rewarded under funding of public schools. "The lack of choice means schools often end up with products that are not suited to their requirements, leading to even more waste."

The centralised procurement model was of particular concern to country schools, she said. "The local businesses are seeing all the goods for the public schools coming in on the train from Sydney, so when it comes to those schools attempting to fundraise the local businesses want nothing to do with it," she said.


One union bully down

Lots more to go. Note that the Australian Building and Construction Authority was a Howard government creation and the unions have been pressing to have it closed down

THE Builders Labourers Federation has sacked a union organiser found guilty of bullying, intimidating and assaulting a site manager. Wayne Carter has been fined $8800 in the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane after a landmark six-month prosecution by the Australian Building and Construction Authority.

Federal magistrate Michael Burnett found that Mr Carter had no power to enter the Brisbane factory of Procast, a manufacturer of precast concrete panels, on December 11, 2008, when he repeatedly swore at and twice assaulted its chief operating officer, David Ash, and encouraged employees not to return to work.

"The conduct was quite extreme and completely unacceptable," Mr Burnett said in his reasons for judgment, handed down late last week.

"In an industrial context it does not favourably bespeak of a civilised approach to the resolution of workplace conflict in circumstances where union officials behave in an offensive and heavy-handed manner toward management in the presence of employees.

"Unchecked, this behaviour could lead both sides of the workplace voting table into a belief that the old days of industrial bullying and intimidation are back and remain alive and well. Nothing could be further from the truth . . . there is no place in the workplace for this style of conduct."

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner John Lloyd said yesterday the fine imposed was close to the maximum available under the Workplace Relations Act.

"(It) should send a clear message that violent and bullying behaviour will not be tolerated in any industry," he told The Australian.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, which is affiliated with the BLF in Queensland, said yesterday that Mr Carter no longer worked for the BLF. "He's been terminated," the national secretary of the CFMEU construction division, Dave Noonan, said. "I don't want to comment on the circumstances of the termination. It's a matter of months since he worked with us."

Mr Noonan said the CFMEU did not condone violence or abuse. "The union expects its officials to conduct themselves in a professional manner on the job," said.

The magistrate found that Mr Carter had failed to give Procast the requisite 24 hours' notice before entering the factory to speak to workers.

"I'm from the BLF, and I want to talk to you and your staff," he told Mr Ash. When Mr Ash replied that Mr Carter did not have right of entry and asked him to leave, Mr Carter told him, "I'm not f---king leaving" and "You don't know the f---king law, arsehole".

Mr Carter then cited "unhygienic toilets" as a "safety issue", shoved Mr Ash twice, "shouldered" him and knocked him to the ground, hurting his wrist.


Fake psychologist finally facing the music

All our wonderful health regulators have done nothing to stop him but it seems that tax evasion has finally caught him out. An earlier report on this blog about him attracted hate mail from some of his followers

HIS occupation is listed as "charlatan" on court documents and now doctor David Kaye, who allegedly bought his PhD over the internet for $249.95, stands to lose his multi-million-dollar property empire and his Mercedes-Benz.

The NSW Crime Commission has won a Supreme Court fight for restraining orders over the homes and offices owned by the convicted conman, whose real name is Ali Davut Sarikaya.

Kaye, who has treated police officers and other public servants referred through WorkCover NSW, runs the Sydney Trauma Clinic, Parramatta Trauma Clinic and the Melbourne Trauma Clinic. But he is alleged to have no qualifications as a psychologist.

The court orders block him from disposing of his properties in Sydney, Parramatta, Eden and Melbourne pending the outcome of criminal charges which allege a $100,000 fraud against the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department.

It is the latest stage of a legal saga that began when Kaye was arrested at Sydney Airport as he attempted to board a flight to New Zealand last year. He also faces investigations by the NSW Medical Board, the Psychologists Registration Board and Work Cover.

The court heard 20 fraud charges against Kaye, alleging among other things that he defrauded the NSW Official Visitors Program, had been dropped. He was appointed as an official visitor - allowing him to visit patients in mental facilities - by the then-health minister John Hatzistergos, despite not being a medical doctor. But the Supreme Court heard those charges had been withdrawn because there was no requirement to be a doctor in order to be appointed under the OVP scheme.

Justice David Davies said last week that the new charges of defrauding the New Zealand Inland Revenue still involve the "identity of, qualifications of, and work carried on by" Kaye. He said it was alleged that Kaye was convicted of fraud in Victoria and declared bankrupt.

The court heard Kaye used several variations of his real name and David Kaye, although he had not changed it officially by deed poll.

Since 1997, he had been establishing himself as Dr David Kaye and "claims to have a PhD but inquiries have indicated this was purchased via the internet from an organisation in Minnesota, USA", the judge said. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University and a part-completed graduate diploma in counselling from RMIT but had recorded his occupation as psychologist on the electoral roll and on passenger departure cards at Sydney Airport, the judge said.

The new charges involve invoices Kaye allegedly submitted in New Zealand for seven years of staff support and counselling services that were never provided. Kaye challenged the allegations put to the court by the NSW Crime Commission, but Justice Davies found that there were "reasonable grounds" for the suspicions.

Kaye owns a Milsons Point apartment, two homes in Eden and offices in Sydney, Parramatta and Melbourne from where he runs his clinics.


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