NSW govt spurns ‘third world’ health claim

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The NSW health minister has rejected criticism of the state’s healthcare system as “third world” by doctors speaking at a parliamentary inquiry.

“Well they want to go and work in the third world then,” Brad Hazzard told reporters on Thursday.

“That’s a ridiculous proposition,” he said after touring an inner Sydney  healthcare centre due to open next year.

“Those doctors who spoke are very good in their own areas … but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good at managing an entire health system,” Mr Hazzard said.

The health minister said the $100 million HealthOne centre in Green Square was designed to alleviate the strain of patient build-up at the nearby Royal Prince Alfred Hospital by providing access to primary healthcare doctors, specialists and medical research facilities.

The new facility will “actually act to enable physicians, clinicians and medical staff and allied health staff, support staff to be here and to provide those services for a range of conditions for example, diabetes, chronic cardiac issues”.

“It will be a connection between primary healthcare GP-type service but also the services of hospitals. Bringing the hospital to the community”.

His comments come a day after emergency medical experts were quizzed at an inquiry hearing about “war zone” conditions in public hospitals that remain under pandemic stress.

Emergency doctors Pramod Chandru and James Tadros on Wednesday told of their frustrations working in the “disheartening” setting of public hospitals in western Sydney.

“It was not our goal when we started out our training in medical school to find ourselves in circumstances that see us failing the needs of our patients on a daily basis,” Dr Tadros told the upper house probe into ambulance ramping and emergency departments.

“But this is the truth of our current working environment … it’s not equitable, equal or fair,” he said.

Medical staff were saving lives “in spite of the system rather than because of it”, Dr Tadros said.

He read a text exchange between him and his colleague that described the system as “basically third world”.

The pair were discussing an 88-year-old woman with terminal cancer who was left for 12 hours in an ED before getting a bed.

Mr Hazzard said claims of patients waiting up to 36 hours to see a doctor in emergency departments were “rubbish”.

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine president Clare Skinner cited the figure at the inquiry on Wednesday.

“There is no record anywhere of that assertion,” said Mr Hazzard, adding that Dr Skinner’s group only represents “about a quarter” of the country’s emergency doctors.

Mr Hazzard said NSW Health led “the entire country” and patient offloading rates across NSW were in the high 90s, within the first 30 minutes of presenting at a hospital, compared to other states that lagged behind.

– AAP

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