However great the temptation might be to cling to the idea that a new Premier and a Ministerial reshuffle might have revitalized the New South Wales Government, the evidence is not very encouraging. The reputation of the government for failing to honour its promises appears to be in no danger of being overturned under the current regime, as the New Year begins with more stories of appalling failures of the health system to provide adequate care.
The revelations over the past few days that three different women have come forward telling of their experiences at Maitland Hospital when suffering miscarriages are not only shocking, they are a massive breach of faith. After the terrible treatment delivered to Jana Horska at Royal North Shore Hospital a year ago, the then Minister, Reba Meagher, promised that such things would not be allowed to happen again. And yet they have, repeatedly.
The new minister, John Della Bosca, has responded with an audit of the guidelines which were supposed to have prevented this from happening. No doubt, explanations will be made and apologies given, but the real question is will anyone in New South Wales believe them, or trust the government to actually deliver on promises it has so far been unable to keep.
While we are still awaiting the government’s response to the Garling Inquiry, it remains clear that previous assurances that the system would be fixed have amounted to nothing. For that reason it would seem reasonable to place little faith in any future assurances. Nevertheless, the problems are not going to be resolved by throwing up our hands in despair.
At the heart of most of the failures of the system is the simple matter of not having enough money to provide for the needs of the public. Compounding that has been the development of a culture of denial, blame shifting and bullying which has arisen out of the pressure of attempting to meet impossible demands without sufficient resources, along with the staff shortages which arise from a lack of trained professionals. That means that even when the money is made available, it can be impossible to actually fill the positions because there simply aren’t enough doctors and nurses who are prepared to take on the job.
It’s a mess that can’t be resolved overnight, but promises mean nothing. Action is needed now, and the first step has to be to make more money available to deliver the standard of care we all deserve.