Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Hospital accused of 'incompetence or racial profiling' in treatment of Aboriginal singer
It's possible that a black may have been negligently treated by white staff. I have lived in Darwin and the way many Aboriginals live around Darwin would put most people off, leading to a reluctance to have much to do with any one of them.
But, as it happens, I see what happened as the sort of routine negligence that you get in most over-worked government hospitals. Getting into surgery only 8 hours after arrival is in fact pretty good by such standards.
And making a mistake over his diagnosis is also a routine feature of government medicine. Staff seldom have much time to sit down and take a detailed history. And diagnosis is guesswork anyway.
And it takes time to look at a patient's notes too. This guy had quite a history so the notes would have taken a while to digest. So the most probable diagnosis -- Aboriginal alcohol problem -- was made and staff went on to other demands on their time.
This was government medicine, not racism
The doctor and manager for Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu have accused a Darwin hospital of either being incompetent or racially profiling the Indigenous singer during a recent medical incident.
Gurrumul was taken to the emergency department on Easter Sunday, with internal bleeding complications known as oesophageal varices, resulting from liver disease. His manager, Mark Grose, and specialist doctor, Paul Lawton claim Gurrumul was not adequately treated for eight hours, causing his health to deteriorate and him being placed in intensive care where he then received the necessary surgery.
Gurrumul has been battling liver disease related to having hepatitis B as a child, Lawton said, and hospital staff should have responded immediately. He said Gurrumul’s life had been risked because doctors did not perform the surgery in a timely manner.
Gurrumul had previously been hospitalised a month ago for the same reason, Lawton said.
In a published letter to the NT health department, Grose, who accompanied Gurrumul to hospital with nurse Michele Dowd, accused the hospital of leaving Gurrumul in A&E “for over eight hours, it seems, without any real attempt to treat the problem”.
“Why was he left for over eight hours when the reason for his admittance was clearly evident in Michele’s explanation to A&E staff and was clearly in all of his notes?” Grose wrote.
“There are two assumptions I can make which are both very disturbing but which need answering: Was Gurrumul Yunupingu’s level of A&E care related to assumptions based on his race or is there a serious fault in the system which allows someone to be largely ignored in A&E while seriously ill?”
The Top End Health Service categorically rejected the assertions.
Executive director of medical services, Professor Dinesh Arya, said a review was launched as soon as the concern about Gurrumul’s care were raised and he was “satisfied that care provided at RDH was timely and appropriate”.
“I will also be offering an opportunity to the patient and his carers/friends to meet with the clinical teams who were involved in providing care to the patient so that they have an opportunity to understand assessment findings, treatment provided and ask any questions. This will also enable clarity in relation to ongoing care and treatment of this patient.”
Arya said he and the RDH patient advocate also met with Gurrumul on Monday to ask him if he was satisfied with his treatment.
“It is concerning it has been suggested that some care assumptions may have been made based on the patient’s race,” he said.
“The hospital has a proud multicultural staff and more than 60% of patients admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital identify as Aboriginal. Claims of poor treatment due to a patient’s race have never been raised at the hospital and RDH will continue to provide the best possible service to all patients requiring treatment.”
Dr Lawton said the treatment of Gurrumul was not timely, and concurred with Grose’s assessment.
Lawton, who has been outspoken on issues of race in the treatment of kidney and liver disease, suggested the incident illustrated systemic issues with care of Indigenous people in hospitals.
He said someone had written on Gurrumul’s chart that he was a drinker, when he is not. “Someone has made that assumption initially and then it has been repeated and amplified based on no evidence whatsoever,” he told Guardian Australia.
“It’s assumed people with liver disease have alcohol problems. Which is, to use Mark’s term, racial profiling.”
Arya said no chart or medical record notes about a patient’s history were made without being confirmed. “Questions about use of alcohol and/or other substance use are part all clinical assessments,” he said.
Turnbull’s brutal question for voters
PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull intends to put a brutal equation to the electorate. Voters have had four prime ministers in the three years since June 2013. Mr Turnbull will ask: Do they really want to go to No. 5 by dumping him on July 2?
That matter of political instability will be as much a factor in the looming double-dissolution election as the Budget and Labor’s demands for health and education spending.
Mr Turnbull last night was, as expected, given the double-dissolution justification he has been wrangling for when the Senate voted down legislation to revive the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) for a second time. With the constitutional requirements loaded, the Prime Minister has made clear today he intends to pull that trigger.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull kick-started an unofficial election campaign with a visit to a Canberra construction site this afternoon and confirmed he intended to call a July 2 election “at an appropriate time after the Budget is delivered”.
But first, the government will announce today extra support for the Australian Security and Investment Commission, the organisation policing the finance sector. The government has been goaded into action by Labor’s repeated calls for a royal commission into banks, a demand with considerable grassroots support but dismissed by Treasurer Scott Morrison as “crass populism”.
Then the Budget will be delivered on May 3. There are reports today the government will promise about $16 billion in spending cuts through attacks on the tax concessions of transnational companies and those of hefty superannuation accounts used to minimise tax rather than save for retirement.
The Budget will not be passed in full before the election, but the government will quickly seek passage of Supply, needed to fund the daily operating costs of the public service.
As with standard practice, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will be able to give his formal reply to the Budget a week later on May 5.
And it is expected that on May 11 — the latest date possible for the Turnbull plan — the Prime Minister will formally call the election of all seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In a regular election only half the Senate spots are contested.
This will give the government time to release new programs and promote them with public money before the restrictions imposed when the election campaign starts and Mr Turnbull becomes a caretaker prime minister.
That means 23 days from last night’s defeat of the ABCC bill until the official start of the election campaign proper. But in effect it is already under way, and now we are 74 days out from polling day.
“Labor’s ready for an election whenever it is,” Mr Shorten said in a statement. “This will be a contest between Labor putting people first, and a Liberal Party looking after vested interests and the big banks. “Australians know where Labor stands and what we stand for: decent jobs, protecting Medicare, better schools, renewable energy and a fairer tax system.”
And in an indication the Labor campaign will target Mr Turnbull and disappointment in his performance, Mr Shorten said: “Australians are fed up with a Prime Minister who dithers but doesn’t deliver.”
Government senate leader George Brandis said last night the Coalition would argue for its return on economic grounds. “Economic management has always been a Coalition strength and a Labor Party weakness because we actually do believe in governments living within their means,” Senator Brandis told ABC TV.
“We actually do believe in keeping taxes as low as they can reasonably be, consistent with maintaining decent services. We actually do believe that the growth of government is something to be avoided, rather than something to be encouraged.
“So our economic credentials, our fiscal conservatism, are well established and it is one of the most important single differences between us and the Labor Party.”
Cory Bernardi holds parents responsible for teenage ‘trasher’
‘The most disturbing aspect of this entire sorry saga is that a 14-year-old child was taken out of school and driven to a violent protest by her parents.’ Cory Bernardi's electoral office on March 18.
Cory Bernardi has lashed the parents of a 14-year-old girl who allegedly was involved in the trashing of his Adelaide electorate office, saying they should be held accountable for any criminal actions of their child.
The South Australian Liberal senator told The Australian last night that “the most disturbing aspect” of the March 18 incident by protesters who supported the Safe Schools program was the involvement of a child who was encouraged to violent behaviour by her parents.
South Australia Police yesterday said they had reported 12 people for disorderly behaviour after investigating the protest. Three of the alleged protesters were also reported for property damage — a teenager from Inglewood, a 20-year-old woman from Klemzig and another woman, 24, from Prospect.
“The most disturbing aspect of this entire sorry saga is that a 14-year-old child was taken out of school and driven to a violent protest by her parents,” Senator Bernardi said.
“One has to ask, what are we doing to the next generation, when some parents think that sort of thing is okay. In my mind, the parents of the 14-year-old who was taken out of school to attend a violent protest need to be held to account just as much as their child does.”
The group allegedly defaced walls and carpet, pushed over a fence and destroyed electoral material in Senator Bernardi’s Kent Town office, on the fringe of Adelaide’s CBD, on March 18.
Eight adults and four juveniles are expected to be summonsed to face an Adelaide court.
Police said those reported for disorderly behaviour were a Glenunga man and another from Adelaide, both 21, an 18-year-old woman from Bradbury, 23-year-old men from Prospect and Croydon, a 22-year-old woman from Croydon Park, and teenagers from Athelstone, Rosewater and Hewett.
Senator Bernardi reacted furiously after slogans including “Australia’s Trump” and “f..k Bernardi” were scrawled on his office walls, while his wife and staff retreated to locked rooms.
“Lefty totalitarians have trashed my office and threatened my staff because their agenda has been exposed,” he said at the time.
He blamed Bill Shorten for inciting the protest, saying at the time that the Opposition Leader gave “Lefty totalitarians” an implicit green light to resort to name calling and violence to shut down debate, after Mr Shorten in February had labelled him a “homophobe” for pushing for a review of a taxpayer-funded program about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex students in schools.
A spokesman for Mr Shorten said the accusation was “disgraceful”. “Nothing excuses the behaviour of those who attacked his office,” the spokesman said.
Senator Bernardi was among those leading the charge against the Safe Schools program, an anti-bullying program funded by Labor and launched by the Coalition two years ago.
South Australian Labor senator Penny Wong said the program was not a political statement, but to ensure children were safe at school. She accused Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham of “rolling over” to the hard Right of the Liberal Party.
Brandis questions climate change beliefs
Attorney-General George Brandis has questioned the science of climate change, saying he's not "at all" convinced it is settled.
Labor has seized on comments by the senior Turnbull government minister that there were a number of views about the cause of climate change, arguing it proves the deep climate scepticism in the coalition.
"It doesn't seem to me that the science is settled at all," Senator Brandis told parliament on Tuesday during debate on the tabling of documents relating to the CSIRO.
The attorney-general was addressing a recent CSIRO restructure - undertaken internally - which will move the focus away from collecting climate data.
About 200 jobs are at risk, however the overall head count is expected to return to current levels within two years.
Senator Brandis said he wasn't embarking on the climate debate himself, but challenging the illogical position of the Labor party. "But I'm not a scientist, and I'm agnostic really on that question."
Senator Brandis said, if the science was settled - like Labor claims - why would Australia need climate researchers.
CSIRO head Larry Marshall said in an email to staff when announcing the restructure that the question of climate change had been proved and it was time to refocus on solutions to it.
However, scientists say without continuous data collection - some of which is undertaken by the CSIRO in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology - huge gaps could form that could never be recovered.
Labor said the attorney-general's comments were breathtaking. "The commitment of Senator Brandis to addressing the impacts of climate change is so shallow, he hasn't made up his mind whether it actually exists yet," environment spokesman Mark Butler and shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said in a statement.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lost the Liberal leadership in 2009 in part due to his commitment to climate change and an emissions trading scheme. As a backbencher, he heavily criticised the coalition's direct action climate policy.
Senator Brandis' office referred AAP to an interview conducted in 2014 in which the attorney-general told a reporter he was "on the side of those who believed in anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming and who believed something ought to be done about it."