Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Entrenched and rigid bureaucracy driving away Qld. hospital staff

More than 12 per cent of clinical staff at Queensland Health quit in 16 months, The Sunday Mail can reveal. While the State Government trumpets a successful recruitment drive, the latest figures reveal 4438 employees in the 36.000-strong workforce resigned between June 2005 and September last year - or 277 a month.

The Australian Medical Association said doctors were fed up trying to work in hospitals without enough beds or operating theatres. Queensland AMA president Zelle Hodge said: "It is so frustrating for staff, and eventually people just say they've had enough of it and leave. "Unless the culture in Queensland Health is changed, and the focus is on the people at the coalface and how they treat their patients rather than bureaucracy, then people will continue to resign." The Forster review, released in the wake of the Jayant Patel scandal at Bundaberg, said that unless the culture of secrecy and poor working conditions in Queensland Health was addressed, the high attrition of health-workers would continue to cripple the system.

One doctor who did not want to be named because Queensland Health has banned him from talking to the media. said he did not feel valued. "We are still chronically understaffed and people are so fed up with working long hours to combat the shortage that they are saying enough is enough, he said. "Queensland Health keep telling us they are addressing the problems, but it's just all talk. Nothing changes."

Figures show 1048 doctors and 2196 nurses resigned between July 2005 and September 2006. In addition, 1194 allied health professionals such as radiographers. occupational therapists and physiotherapists quit.

Queensland Health, which boasts of "caring for people" in its latest annual report, is advertising 407 jobs. Queensland University of Technology business researcher Megan Tones said: "To have 12 per cent of staff leave in just over a year is a huge amount. Obviously not enough is being done to retain staff.

But Joshua Cooney, spokesman for Health Minister Stephen Robertson, said the rate of resignations was "normal" for Queensland Health [So that is good??]. He said all the departing staff had been replaced, with an extra 2910 employed. ''The minister has spoken on many occasions about changing the culture in Queensland Health and that is what we're doing," he said.

Opposition health spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said Mr Cooney needed to stop the spin. "I am getting calls from doctors saying nothing's changed," he said. "The Government needs to start developing strategies to retain the professionals."

The above report by Hannah Davies appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on February 11, 2007

Federal Leftist leader echoes conservative tough talk on teachers

Despite all the contempt heaped on him by journalists and "intellectuals", Australia's unassuming conservative Prime Minister still sets the agenda for political debate. The great lack of anything original to say on the Left helps, of course

Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has thrown down the gauntlet to teachers' unions, calling for sharp improvements in school performance.

Echoing the sentiments of the Government on the quality of curriculums and reporting standards, Mr Rudd told a conference of Labor's National Left in Canberra yesterday he was prepared for a fight to get his way: "This may result in resistance from some teachers' unions,' Mr Rudd said. "I understand this, but I will not be signing blank cheques unless we can improve the quality of what we teach our children.

Mr Rudd's speech was a clear attempt to demonstrate his conservative credentials on school standards -- an issue Prime Minister John Howard has nominated as a priority for his Government in the rundown to the end-of-year federal election.

"This is like walking into the lion's den," one senior Rudd aide said yesterday, describing the Opposition Leader's decision to take on the unions.

Mr Rudd said teachers were "dedicated professionals (who) deserve our support -- not our condemnation". "But I am deeply concerned about how we go about in practical terms lifting curriculum standards, curriculum outcomes and the resources necessary to achieve those ends. "It is not just about investing more in education but also in improving the quality of our education outcomes". [words cribbed from the Prime Minister!] "This means taking on the hard questions of curriculum standards and resources. This will involve a contract between ourselves and the education sector -- to boost our national investment but in exchange for better, measurable curriculum outcomes for our young people."

Queensland parents and teachers groups have hit back at Mr Howard's plan for a national curriculum. The Prime Minister last week cranked up his campaign to reform the state-based education systems, labelling some curriculums "incomprehensible sludge". His comments have been dismissed by the Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations and the Queensland Teachers' Union.

"From a parental point of view, there are some real benefits in leaving the system as it is," P&C council operations manager Greg Donaldson said. 'We have one of the best curricula in Australia and we have a good say in what is being taught in schools. Parents would have less say in these things if it was done from Canberra."

QTU president Steve Ryan said attacks by Mr Howard and Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop on state schools were really about industrial relations. The big picture here is a push to get teachers on to Australian Workplace Agreements."

The above report by GLENN MILNE and DARYL PASSMORE appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on February 11, 2007

Qld. Leftists go elitist to train more doctors

Leftists usually think that they are the elite and everybody else must be levelled down: Elitism for me but not for thee

A new super state school will prepare gifted students to be the doctors and dentists of the future. Education Minister Rod Welford said the school, to be based on the Gold Coast, would give students access to experts and facilities at the state-of-the-art Griffith University Parklands campus. It will be built beside the Gold Coast's second public hospital, which also is part of the Griffith campus, becoming Queensland's third "super school". It follows the opening in Brisbane of the Science Maths and Technology Academy at Toowong and the Creative Industries Academy at Kelvin Grove. Like those schools, the new academy will select students in Years 10 to 12 on the basis of an entrance exam later this year. Year 11 and 12 students will complete the International Baccalaureate rather than follow the state syllabus to get an OP score.

Mr Welford said the International Baccalaureate's focus on science would suit the college, which would have an emphasis on health sciences. Students would be likely to go on to study courses such as medicine, dentistry, radiography, physiotherapy and biomedical science at university. He expected several hundred students to enrol in the first year. "It will broaden the options available to Gold Coast students and will also be accessible to those in Beenleigh and Logan and even the southern suburbs of Brisbane," Mr Welford said. "The Gold Coast campus of Griffith, with more than 13,000 students, is the fastest growing university in the state."

Griffith University vice-chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor said the Health Science Academy would benefit from its proximity to the university's health science schools and research facilities. These include the Institute for Glycomics, headed by Professor Mark von Itzstein, an Australia Prize winner for his efforts in developing the anti-influenza drug, Relenza.

Griffith Deputy vice-chancellor Professor John Dewar said the students would have the chance to work with academic staff, especially on tasks such as the 4000-word project that was part of the International Baccalaureate. Under that program, each student does English, maths, at least one and often two science subjects, a foreign language and a choice of psychology or business, with the Creative Industries Academy offering subjects such as drama, film, art or music instead of the second science.

Mr Welford said the Gold Coast Academy, which would be beside Griffith University's student accommodation, would also offer Year 8 and 9 students the chance to undertake school holiday science courses to see what opportunities the subject had to offer.


Now Australia's "drought" hits Sydney

Every single Eastern Australian State has now had flooding but there are still severe water-usage restrictions in most places because no major dams have been built for many years -- under Greenie influence, of course. Using the "drought" and global warming as an excuse for an inadequate domestic water supply is getting to be the sort of "big lie" that Dr. Goebbels would be proud of.

While the east coast was yesterday buffetted by rain, leading to flash flooding and the collapse of a shopping centre roof in Sydney, in the central and southern parts of NSW wind and dust storms led to one death and cast an eerie glow across much of the Riverina.

The problems in Sydney began shortly after midday when sections of a roof fell in at the Campbelltown Shopping Mall in the southwest, leading to the evacuation of a thousand shoppers and staff. A NSW fire brigade spokesman said fire teams attended the collapse after automatic alarms were set off. The water was up to 1m deep in the loading dock and knee deep in other parts of the complex, with the situation exacerbated by overflowing stormwater drains.

The spokesman said large amounts of water had poured through the ceiling and entered the lower levels of the complex, damaging carpets and stock in more than 60 of the centre's 103 shops. Police were called in to assist with the evacuation and State Emergency Service teams built sandbag walls to prevent further water damage.

In separate incidents, two drivers became stranded during flash floods in the St Marys area of western Sydney. Both men were pulled to safety but their cars were substantially damaged.

In the state's Riverina district in the south, a man in his 20s was killed while driving his utility along Burley Griffin Way near Temora during a wind storm shortly after 3pm. Witnesses told police a large gum tree was uprooted and struck the man's vehicle. The local man sustained multiple injuries and died at the scene.

Senior forecaster with the Bureau of Metereology Neale Fraser said the eerie glow that had been cast by the dust storm across Griffith and surrounding towns was caused by a trough of low pressure heading west which had caused a surge of easterlies in its wake, with winds gusting up to 55km/h. He said the surge "looks spectacular because it is only a few thousand feet deep and is confined to that layer". "It is like a tongue of cooler air which picks up all the dust but is then confined," he said.

A spokesman for the NSW State Emergency Service, Phil Campbell, said there were more than 250 calls for help in the southwest of Sydney, mostly because of flash flooding. A "flood watch" alert has been issued by the Bureau of Metereology for the Georges River and SES volunteers closely monitored river heights overnight. While the east of the country was buffetted by storm pockets yesterday, the west remained hot and dry. Marble Bar in the Pilbara experienced its 36th day in succession with temperatures above 40C.


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