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Staff face absuse

Tuesday, 20th January, 2009

Let an investigation show the facts before you abuse our staff - that is the message from the Greater Western Area Health Service. The message comes after abusive phone calls were made to staff following the reporting of a woman giving birth to a baby in a hospital toilet. Chairman of the GWAHS Health Advisory Council Dr Steve Flecknoe-Brown said he was angered by complaints from staff about copping abuse and threats from members of the public. "A number of members of the emergency department have received abusive phone calls and threats to their personal safety," Dr Flecknoe-Brown said. "The writing of the article obviously twigged the emotions of readers who expressed that on members of our staff. "Staff are feeling intimidated - it's bad enough what they've been through without facing threats." Dr Flecknoe-Brown said an investigation into the matter, which involved the mother of 24 week old twins giving birth to one of them in a toilet, would produce all the facts. While he denied he was questioning the accuracy of the family's recount of the events that night, he did suggest recollections of events could be tainted by emotion. "There are mechanisms in place to investigate by objective methods," he said. "A team of people will be working on the investigation and their aim is to get at the facts. "Records will check and prove the facts and the inquiry will find that out. "It will also find what if anything needs to be addressed so if there are problems they are fixed." GWAHS said the investigation would be thorough and open, and suggestions by people that the matter would be covered up were totally unfounded. It also urged members of the public to use the proper course of action to register their concerns or complaints. "For people to suggest that the health system would try and find a scapegoat is extremely out of the way of how we approach things," Dr Flecknoe-Brown said. "While this is a very emotional issue can I ask that the public please let the system be used before they take the law into their own hands. "I don't want to stifle discussion; discussion is good. "But don't abuse our staff. "Feel free to write to senior members of the staff, the health service manger, the director of nursing or myself as the chairman of the Health Advisory Council. "There is also the Health Care Complaints Commission which is funded by the NSW Government to investigate these types of matters and it is a very powerful organisation and not driven by emotion. "This is very upsetting for staff and patients and we want the best result for everyone. "It's very important that staff remain cool calm and collected and they do not have to deal with threats." GWAHS said three instances of phone calls had been made to the emergency department threatening staff, but as many had been calling the maternity ward saying how wonderful they were. It said the investigation would be done as "thoroughly and quickly as possible" but whether the findings were made public or not was up to the family.

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