An Open Letter to the Hon Cameron Dick, Queensland Minister for Health : Failure to take the issue of informed consent seriously. Failure to ensure good cancer treatment to public hospital patients.

Dear Hon Cameron Dick

Queensland Minister for Health

RE : Failure to respond to patients not having their right to informed consent respected. Failure to provide good cancer treatment to public hospital patients. Palliative Care is different from other areas of health and requires it’s own advocacy service. Healthcare is being rationed and no one is explaining to the patients how this is impacting on their care.

The complaint involved the outpatient being referred to another facility for in home palliative care without his knowledge or consent. This was in anticipation that the cancer would return. The patient was then pressured for months to accepted the unwanted and unneeded referral. It also involved poor care by the health service during admissions for surgical procedures. There is no reason why you as Minister should not have seen to it that these concerns were taken seriously.

Dear Hon Cameron Dick,

On the 30 May 2016 , I wrote the following – I have been requesting a meeting for over a year.

RE: Inadequate response by the Health Department. The need for an advocacy service for people with a life limiting illness. It took two years to attempt to get a response from the health service and the OHO. Most patients are dead before they get any type of response. Also, a very inappropriate letter received from Dr xxxxx xxxxx, dated 13 January 2016.

As the Minister for Health, you have been quoted as saying that you want Queensland to have the best Palliative Care System.

Yet you have repeatedly refused to see me.

I refuse to accept that my concerns are not as important as anyone else’s concerns just because it involves Palliative Care.

This letter was ignored. Then following the Shadow Health Minister , Mr JohnPaul Langbroek writing to you as Minister, I was invited to attend a meeting with yourself. The Director General of Queensland Health, Mr Michael Walsh also attended the meeting along with two other senior officers on the 11 August 2016.

At this meeting I was given the impression that my concerns would be taken seriously and that I would be getting a response regarding the need for an advocate service.– I still have not had a response.

I have written numerous letters to ask why I did not get a response re the need for an advocate service, these were all ignored.

On Friday 11 November, I was told by a senior policy officer that they would not look into the issue because the Minister had told me that if I wanted an advocate service, then I could start one myself. They would not be looking into the matter.

It is clearly wrong that I should be expected to have the capacity to start an advocacy service.  It is the duty of the Minster to ensure that good quality health care is available to all Queenslanders.

Reasons why Palliative Care is different from other areas of health and requires it’s own advocacy service.

  1. I have been writing to the Minister and the Premier for two years about the neglect and abuse of Palliative Care patients in Qld public hospitals and I don’t believe anyone has taken the issue seriously.
  2. No other patients are having their health care compromised to a huge extent by the resource pressure that faces our public health hospitals. When I wrote to the health service CEO, Dr xxxx xxxx and asked why palliative care patients were treated so poorly, I received the following response.

“There is an obligation on hospital management and senior clinical staff to ensure that billion dollar entities like xxxxx operate efficiently for the greater good of the greater number in the community.”

People who are expected to die within the next two years are identified as suitable for early Palliative Care. It seemed clear to me that they are coerced into accepting early palliative care whether they wanted it or not.

Having a palliative care label applied to a patient months or years before they are expected to need end of life care puts them in a very vulnerable position. If they develop any health concerns , these can be easily overlooked or ignored because they are seen as “palliative”. Acute illness that can and should be treated can be confused with symptoms of their life limiting illness because once labelled palliative, they often only see very inexperienced doctors who often have little knowledge of the patients actual illness as they are only trained in symptom management. Patients can be pushed on to sub acute hospitals while they have acute health needs which should be addressed.

Also once labelled as Palliative it is almost impossible to find a GP willing to be interested in their general health care, so they can be just left to flounder without any care.

I have observed a huge amount of difference between public and private cancer care. It is not acceptable that patients who can’t afford private health insurance should have to accept such a low standard of care.

Healthcare is being rationed and no one is explaining to the patients how this is impacting on their care.

RE Inappropriate letter received from the health service CEO Dr xxx xxxx.

I have written to you as Minister for Health a number of times re this letter but have not had a response. I had an inadequate one paragraph response from Dr Michael Walsh describing it as “strongly worded” . The letter was extremely defensive, highly insensitive and written in an aggressive tone. I believe that the purpose of the letter was to threaten and belittle me.

  1. Dr xxxx refused to address a complaint about a senior doctor saying that Dr yyyyyyyy had a good reputation. This was a very illogical and unprofessional reason for not looking into a complaint. It seems Dr xxxx would only look at complaints regarding doctors who have a poor reputation. A good reputation can never be an excuse for not looking into a complaint.
  2. I requested an apology re my family member being wrongly accused of unnecessarily taking up a bed when he was in fact an outpatient at the time of referral and the only admissions he had were for surgical procedures. He actually had major surgical complications and given this one would expect the hospital to be more sensitive .
  3. Dr xxxxxx did not read the facts but just wrongly assumed the letter was about an inpatient and he rambled on with a lot of irrelevant information about the cost of beds, the hospital’s reputation and problems finding suitable placement for patients. The patient was an outpatient , not an elderly person and not in need of placement. If the matter had not been about a palliative care patient, I am sure the CEO would have made an effort to read the facts first before replying.

I have tried Palliative Care QLD and numerous other services, there is no service in QLD that advocates for Palliative Care Patients.

Yours sincerely

Forgotten Queensland Voter

https://australianpalliativecare.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/is-palliative-care-working-to-save-money-at-the-expense-of-patients

https://australianpalliativecare.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/a-carers-response-to-the-statewide-qld-strategy-for-end-of-life-care-2015

https://australianpalliativecare.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/the-need-for-an-advocacy-service-for-palliative-care-patients-a-carers-perception/

 

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