Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ill baby passed around like a parcel. Dies

The NSW government hospital system, again

THE grieving parents of Elijah Slavkovic are demanding answers about a bungled 1500km, 33-hour journey through five hospitals that contributed to his death.

The three-month-old Melbourne baby became ill while on a family holiday on the NSW South Coast last year, but he might have been saved if given antibiotics within hours of becoming ill.

Instead, he was passed around the NSW health system for 33 hours through hospitals in Pambula, Bega, Canberra and Sydney before finally being flown to Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, where he died six weeks later from bacterial meningitis.

His distraught parents, Bobby Slavkovic and Sandra Bernobic, are still battling to come to terms with the loss of their son. They are fighting to have his death investigated by Victorian and NSW coroners and the NSW Government.

"I feel that he was robbed of a chance," Ms Bernobic said. "He lost six hours of treatment and in a small baby that could have made all the difference, but he was never given the chance. "I want to know why they failed Elijah. Why he wasn't given antibiotics. I need someone to tell me why he wasn't given the help he needed when he first went to hospital. "We still wake up some nights terrified and worrying about him. I just need somebody to say sorry - not to me, but to Elijah."

After he became ill in April last year, Elijah was taken to Pambula Hospital. It does not have paediatric care, so he was transferred to Bega Hospital, which also has no paediatric facilities. Ms Bernobic says Bega doctors told her that Elijah was not sick and only needed burping.

As he deteriorated, they sent him to Canberra, even though they had been told the hospital did not have a paediatric intensive care unit. Elijah was finally given antibiotics more than six hours after arriving at his first hospital.

In Canberra he had to be resuscitated and placed on a ventilator before being flown to Sydney Children's Hospital. Medical records from the specialist Sydney hospital indicate despair that Elijah had not received antibiotics sooner, and by then he was too sick to be saved.

Elijah was flown to Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital for his final care so his distraught parents could be closer to home.
Mr Slavkovic said staff at the Sydney and Melbourne hospitals did everything they could to help Elijah as well as comfort them. But he will never be able to understand why his son was sent around NSW instead of going directly to the specialist hospitals.

"I pleaded with them to send him to Melbourne or Sydney," he said. "If I had known what those hospitals were like, I would have jumped in the car and driven to Melbourne and he still would have got antibiotics sooner."

Because failures in Elijah's care took place in NSW, but he died in Victoria, the matter was not reported to either state's coroners. After being told of the details by the Herald Sun yesterday, the Victorian coroner's office said it would examine the case if asked by Elijah's parents.

Medical Error Action Group spokeswoman Lorraine Long said it was outrageous that despite the damning findings in a report by NSW health authorities, the case was not referred to the coroner. Nine recommendations from the NSW probe have been implemented to make sure the same debacle doesn't happen again.


Racist political party planned

AUSTRALIA'S first indigenous political party will be officially registered early next year and could one day form government, the man behind the move says. Indigenous rights campaigner Maurie Ryan has applied to have the First Nations Political Party registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

The former Labor party member says the new party will eventually field candidates in federal, state and territory elections and "it will grow". "Political parties are created to govern and I hope one day this political party will be in power," Mr Ryan said today.

"There are first nations political parties all around the world. "But in Australia there hasn't been any representation of indigenous people except the times of Neville Bonner, Aden Ridgeway and now Ken Wyatt."

Mr Ryan said that fact was an indictment on mainstream politics. He ran as an Independent in the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari at the 2007 and 2010 federal elections. The seat is named after his grandfather, early land rights activist Vincent Lingiari, and presently held by Labor minister Warren Snowdon.

"Warren's been there 20 years and done nothing," Mr Ryan said. "I'll be contesting against him next time and I'll have a political party behind me."

Mr Ryan said First Nations was needed because both major parties proved they were racist by suspending the Racial Discrimination Act in order to roll out the NT intervention. The new party would be open to everyone and campaign on wider issues than simply indigenous rights.

To date First Nations had more than 2000 members, Mr Ryan said. The AEC advertised the party's application this week. Any objections have to be lodged by January 4. Mr Ryan hopes the party will then be officially registered in the following weeks.


The Leftist romance with bureaucracy never ceases

Queensland budget balloons with rising wages for bureaucrats

ANNA Bligh's administration has presided over the nation's fastest growing wages bill at the same time as being forced to sell state assets. National figures reveal the Bligh Government's wage costs have increased 5.4 per cent in the past 12 months - a growth rate exceeding all other states, as well as the private sector.

The figures come as the Government proceeds with its unpopular plan to sell $15 billion in state assets in an effort to fix its battered budget and reclaim a AAA credit rating.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Labour Price Index, pay rates in the Queensland public sector grew 5.4 per cent in the 12 months to September. This compared with 3 per cent in Victoria and 3.8 per cent in NSW. Private sector wages grew by 3.4 per cent in Queensland and New South Wales and 3.6 per cent in Victoria.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser yesterday said some of the additional wage costs stemmed from enterprise bargaining agreements that pre-dated the Government's 2.5 per cent wages policy. "These agreements included police, who received the equivalent of a 5 per cent increase on top of wage adjustments, nurses and teachers, which both received increases of 4.5 per cent, and allied health workers, who received 4 per cent plus re-classifications," he said.

"We know we have to responsibly manage wages growth as we rebuild the budget following the global financial crisis. That's why we have put in place a wages policy of 2.5 per cent for future EBAs." The Government recently side-stepped its own wages policy by handing thousands of public servants annual increases of 4.5 per cent, followed by two 4 per cent increases.

Premier Anna Bligh also recently gave politicians a wage increase of 3.1 per cent, although this came after a one-year freeze to their pay packets.


Bungling NSW Labor government blows $350m of taxpayers' money

That would hire a lot of doctors and nurses for their struggling hospitals

In a final and scathing rebuke of the Keneally government's handling of public transport, the NSW Auditor-General says the government wasted more than $350 million on the abandoned underground Metro project. Peter Achterstraat says in his report on transport projects: "Of the $412 million spent on the Sydney Metro, $356 million represents expenditure with no apparent benefit to the people of NSW."

His comments directly contradict the premier, Krstina Keneally, who, when she dumped the Metro in February, insisted the money had not been wasted. She said at the time: "In fact, the work we have done on CBD Metro has been very useful and it will continue to be so."

Mr Achterstraat, who is respected widely for his independence, also said the Metro debacle should serve as a lesson. "I recommend the NSW Government identify lessons learnt from the Sydney Metro experience and ensure the State never again expends such a large amount of scarce transport dollars and valuable time on a project that does not proceed."

The Metro - a seven-kilometre underground line between Rozelle and Central, with a budget of $5.3 billion -- came to symbolise the transport failures of the Carr, Iemma, Rees and Keneally Labor governments.

Mrs Keneally also promised to reserve the corridors for the Metro, including a corridor under Pitt Street in the CBD, which experts have identified as vital for the expansion of CityRail services, not metros.

Despite the Keneally government's repeated claims that CityRail is meeting its benchmark targets, the auditor-general's report also found complaints about CityRail had soared by 20 per cent. The complaints were mostly about the quality of the overall service, operations and reliability, and not about staff. In the past, some senior Railcorp managers have tried to shift blame to frontline staff. Mr Achterstraat said: "Complaints about service replaced complaints about staff as the major area of complaint."

In another sign of the limited effect motorways have on relieving congestion, the auditor-general also found that traffic speeds in the morning peak hour on the M5 and Eastern Distributor, fell from 41 km/h to 35 km/h.


A police attack on people's freedoms

A PERSON'S "right to remain silent" with impunity after being arrested will be effectively abolished under a police campaign to be taken to the next state election. Instead of what a person says being used against them in a court, police say a person's refusal to speak should also be able to be used against them in some circumstances.

The NSW Police Association will launch a campaign against the current laws in an effort to pressure both parties ahead of March's poll. Police say professional criminals are exploiting the right to silence, making it harder for police to obtain convictions.

However, civil libertarians said the move would result in more innocent people in jail.

Police association president Scott Weber said the changes would make it harder for criminals to dodge the law and protect innocent people.

He called on the State Government to adopt laws similar to those in the UK. "The British parliament changed the application of the right to silence over 15 years ago to combat the growing misuse of this right, and to deal with the rise of organised crime and terrorism," Mr Weber said. "The British model still gives people the right to stay silent but allows for courts to draw an inference of guilt from a person's silence in certain situations."

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said being pressured to answer questions that might incriminate them would result in countless innocent people going to jail. "It doesn't serve any benefit," he said.


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