Sent to the daily papers but not pubished:
The lessons that should be learnt from the whole Dr Patel and Bundaberg Hospital saga is that rewarding managers through performance based pay based on the achievement of productivity and efficiency targets can produce terrible outcomes in the health system. But sadly, with the current economic and human resources theologies in the health system, I doubt if this will be the lesson drawn. Interesting to hear a spokesperson of the Queensland medical fraternity say that there were plenty of doctors willing to go to Bundaberg to take the surgical position Patel held, but it was considered more cost efficient to employ Patel.
All credit to Toni Hoffman, the Nursing Unit Manager who kept going to senior management of Bundaberg Hospital over a 2 year period raising concerns about Dr Patel’s standards of care only, to be rebuffed and told that she needed to learn how to get on with overseas born doctors. All credit to Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland, who today paid tribute to Toni as a whistleblower, and recognised the suffering that Toni has undergone because she was a whistleblower.
It is not all over yet, as there is to be an appeal and the suffering of Patel’s patients, and the families of the patient’s who died, continues. To those patients and families, I pay tribute. Despite the callous indifference of some, there are many in the health system who are thinking about you, and send you our sympathies.