Whistle­blower GP warned of ‘chaos’

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - CAMERON WHITE­LEY

A DOCTOR at Bupa’s South Ho­bart fa­cil­ity says her warn­ings to management about se­ri­ous de­fi­cien­cies in the clin­i­cal care of res­i­dents fell on deaf ears.

El­iz­a­beth Monks told the Royal Com­mis­sion into Aged Care Qual­ity and Safety that she had made count­less pleas to management to ad­dress is­sues, but was dis­missed.

Dr Monks said she was prompted to speak out be­cause she could see a spike in ad­mis­sions to hos­pi­tals and an in­creased preva­lence of se­ri­ous ill­ness and in­jury.

Dr Monks, who has worked as the cen­tre’s gen­eral prac­ti­tioner since Jan­uary 2016, said the fa­cil­ity was of­ten “in chaos” but that her con­cerns were brushed off.

“I felt that there was a feeling amongst those in the cen­tral of­fice that I was histri­onic, over­re­ac­tive, over-pas­sion­ate, and there­fore my in­for­ma­tion to them was not valid,’’ she said. “It was me seek­ing some­one to come and help and as­sess what was go­ing on and try and rec­tify it.”

Dr Monks told the com­mis­sion there was a cul­ture among man­agers not to re­port prob­lems be­cause it would re­flect badly on their per­for­mance.

In an email ex­change ten­dered to the com­mis­sion, Dr Monks wrote: “I am 100 per cent [sure] there is a cul­ture among the gms not to re­port prob­lems so that they look good to the pow­ers that be. They don’t want to be red­flagged.”

Not happy with re­sponses she re­ceived, Dr Monks took the is­sues to then man­ag­ing direc­tor of Bupa Aus­tralia and New Zealand, Jan Adams.

Dr Monks told the com­mis­sion that Ms Adams’ re­sponse was superficia­l and that she did not have con­fi­dence Ms Adams had even looked into her con­cerns.

Bupa South Ho­bart was sanc­tioned in Oc­to­ber last year, when an au­dit found the fa­cil­ity did not meet 32 of the 44 ex­pected out­comes.

“I think if peo­ple had lis­tened and acted, we would have fixed a num­ber of the prob­lems,’’ Dr Monks said, be­fore adding that things had im­proved since the sanc­tions.

Diane Daniels told the com­mis­sion the treat­ment of her mother, Emily Flana­gan, at the fa­cil­ity, would “haunt me for a long time”.

“I be­lieve that Bupa South Ho­bart needs to be held ac­count­able for its fail­ure to put peo­ple be­fore profit,’’ she said.

Ms Daniels said she re­called be­ing ac­ci­den­tally called by her mother, to hear her call­ing out for a nurse.

“Be­cause it was lunchtime, I thought some­body would come into Mum’s room but I could hear that no one did,’’ she said. “I waited but Mum be­gan sob­bing and say­ing, ‘I wish I was out of it’, and this broke my heart.”

Ms Daniels said her mum, who has de­men­tia, re­ported be­ing hurt on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing in April last year.

“I know that Mum has cog­ni­tive is­sues but it wor­ried me that she seemed fright­ened,’’ she said. “This was the sec­ond time that Mum had com­plained to me of re­ceiv­ing rough treat­ment at night time and of be­ing told to shut up or she would get into trou­ble or be told to leave.”

Ms Daniels told the com­mis­sion she found dried fae­ces on the floor of her mum’s room, which was not im­me­di­ately cleaned.

Ms Daniels re­ported is­sues with her mother miss­ing meals, be­ing left in a hot room with too many blan­kets, and be­ing left out of ex­cur­sions.

In­tro­duc­ing the case study on Bupa South Ho­bart, coun­sel as­sist­ing the com­mis­sion, Peter Rozen QC, said Bupa had em­barked on cost-cut­ting de­spite clin­i­cal care de­fi­cien­cies. This in­cluded a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in ros­tered staff hours and not re­plac­ing some­one who called in sick.

Hear­ings con­tinue to­day, with Bupa to give ev­i­dence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.