AN OPEN LETTER TO THE QUEENSLAND PREMIER ANNA BLIGH
Today was the low point in my mother’s Queensland Hospital Experience.
Today she was let down by Queensland Health.
My Mum, not three weeks ago was living a normal life. Unbelievable as it sounds, my 75 year old mother, apart from having limited sight due to Macular Degeneration, has barely had a sick day – she was as happy and healthy as a clam.
Then she lost strength in her hand. The grim news of a secondary tumour in her brain that had spread from cancer in the colon, liver and lungs caught us all by surprise
The speed of admission into hospital was to be admired. It was immediate. What a great start to our Queensland Health experience.
Please know from the outset, this is not a letter of criticism about the nurses, the doctors or support staff. This is a plea to you, the politician, who in all honesty will never experience a day as a patient in a public hospital, to listen and to fix the overcomplicated system.
A hypothetical if you will...
Imagine your mum, being 75, gets the most devastating news of her life. In lightening speed her normal old life of hanging out at home babysitting her grandson once a week and going down to the local shops, is no longer a reality.
Instead she is incredibly frightened and fearful for her future. Imagine now she is given no details regarding the course of action that is imminent. Instead, she is admitted to a hospital ward, fed 3 meals a day, shares a ward with not one but two violent junkies and sits around and waits.
With me Anna? Next, imagine, you as her family, after repeated requests to be kept in the loop, hear nothing.
Next imagine Anna your mother is advised she requires a major brain operation to remove a large tumour. You as her family, as her child have still been told NOTHING. You are not even allowed to stay with her the hour before her operation. The operation she is, to be blunt, scared out of her fucking mind about. Think about it Anna, this might be the last time you may speak to your mother or she to you, ever again.
So now imagine your mother has come out the other side, is in ICU and finally, the surgeon is telling you that you will now be supplied with a meeting with all specialist doctors involved to discuss the future and what services will be available. Imagine your relief that you are finally getting some answers and that you mother is alive and relatively well.
I need to you concentrate now Anna because this is where the system that is QLD Health is redundant.
Imagine now, your mother goes back to the general ward and she is seeing a doctor daily. Fantastic you think. Not so. See, being the recipient of a major brain operation, she cannot retain the information that is being delivered to her. You, as her child, still cannot make sense of what the outcome of her operation is nor what her future holds, because no one will tell you anything.
Imagine then Anna, your mother wakes up during the night, two days after having her operation and she cannot stop crying. She can’t tell you why. A rational person Anna, understands this is depression and is perfectly normal. Imagine then Anna, being her daughter arriving to visit and your mother sobbing and not being able to stop and your hopelessness at the whole situation. Imagine your frustration after 3 repeated requests for a social worker to see your mother, she still is being left alone to sob at night.
The worst though is still to come. See today the rehabilitation worker comes. Something your mum is looking forward to as she is expecting to receive some exercises instructing her how to improve that hand that has regressed since the surgery. Imagine now, how she feels after the rehab worker tells your mother, alone, with no support to understand her words, that there is “no point” working on her hand and basically giving her no hope.
Thirty minutes later, your mother is addressed by the oncologist.
Keeping in mind, your mother is almost blind, cannot now move by herself and has been basically told to give up and is sobbing, once again alone. At this point she is told she will have to have a colonoscopy and could she "possibly" tell her usual doctor next time she sees him?
So a 75 year neurologically compromised patient of QLD Health who is basically blind is being told to pass on a message, she may not remember, to a doctor she cannot see . A very important message that will ultimately make a huge difference in her cancer treatment.
Did I mention your mother is still crying at the drop of hat, has been given zero incentive to be positive and was given the devastating news of possible life expectancy ALONE due to a lack of a simple phone call to you, her only family?
I’m well aware the hypothetical above means nothing to you. You would get the best care. You would not be dicked around with bureaucracy and the hierarchy of a public hospital.
But see, our frustrations stem from the lack of communication. The lack of courtesy. We are not numbers. Our mother is not simply nothing just because she is older and has advanced cancer. Your duty of care is to do the very best you can. You are failing.
If Queensland Health were my own personal business and it was consistently failing to provide the services I was offering and the complaints were outweighing the praise, I would either be arrogant, ignorant or just plain stupid to not try and find the fundamental faults in my system and change these.
When you read this Anna, I expect your first reaction will be to fob this off to your Health Minister and his general area. I don’t know his or her name and I don’t care. I expect there will be a generic response generated that generally appeases the minions.
But see when you put your hand up to be Premier of Queensland; you took the healthcare of all Queenslanders in your hands. If you think of it any other way, then you shouldn’t be the Premier of Queensland.
What I do expect as a federal and state and local tax and medicare levy payer is for you to organise and delegate qualified staff to fix the Health Care and its archaic systems
Myself, my family and my mother have the right to this “free” service. At no time should we feel as if we are mooching off a system because we, the people of Queensland deserve equal service for what we have paid for indirectly for all of our working years.
A system needs to be set up that informs patients and family of vital information. Information to resources and available services both in and outside of the hospital.
At the end of the day, what I want for you is to stop the bullshit.
Create a system where the mountain of red tape is removed. A system that creates a circle of care.
A system where I can ask once and I get a response to my request. At the very least.
I know your answer will be that the hospitals are understaffed and under resourced. FIX IT. I would rather our sinking ship of a state be in debt due to you fully subsidising the education of nurses and health professionals than a new footbridge or another motorcar race.