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Whistleblowing Women

Australian women who blow the whistle on corruption in their workplaces.

Toni Hoffman, Whistleblowing Woman at Bundaberg Hospital, embraced by her patients after guilty verdict.

Toni Hoffman, the nurse who first blew the whistle on Bundaberg Hospital surgeon Jayant Patel, was embraced by former patients at the Bundaberg court house after the guilty verdict.

"This is a huge victory for patient safety and patient advocacy and for standing up for what's right," Ms Hoffman said.

She said this was the end of the Patel saga for her.

"I think we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere and for me this is the end. I don't have anything to say to him."

Also outside court was local MP Rob Messenger, who many patients applauded for helping bring the case to light.

Former patients relieved by Jayant Patel guilty verdict, Alex Dickinson, The Courier-Mail, 29 June 2010 :

If Toni Hoffman had not blown the whistle, Jayant Patel might still be operating on patients at Bundaberg Hospital.

Jayant Patel was found to be criminally negligent.

Queensland MP Rob Messenger praised the role of Toni Hoffman in bringing Jayant Patel to trial.

Rob Messenger said that if Toni Hoffman had not blown the whistle, Jayant Patel might still be working at Bundaberg Hospital.

Toni Hoffman says that the verdict is "a message to dodgy doctors everywhere".

Toni Hoffman, Whistleblowing Woman, treated 'like a leper' since she blew the whistle.

December 2011 Update :

Toni Hoffman revealed yesterday how Queensland Health and the Bligh Labor government had treated her "like a leper" since she blew the whistle.

"Queensland Health wants me to feel guilty -- they ostracise me, treat me like a leper and want me out," Ms Hoffman said yesterday.

Ms Hoffman's lawyers Maurice Blackburn this week launched a District Court action 

seeking $500,000 in compensation.

The firm's Brisbane partner, Peter Koutsoukis , said: 

"The message she constantly gets is 'we do not want you in our organisation'."

Ms Hoffman received the Order of Australia medal and Local Hero recognition in 2006.

But she said she has been threatened with "performance management".

Jayant Patel whistleblower 'treated like a leper' by Queensland Health, Hedley Thomas, The Australian, 16 December 2011 :

Christine Cameron : a nurse and a Whistleblowing Woman in Queensland Health.

Christine Cameron whistleblew to the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) about "falsifying of records, bullying and medical neglect" at Bundaberg Base Hospital.

Christine alleges -

* An assault on a baby.

* Gross neglect of elderly people.

One elderly woman was tied to a chair for a weekend and soiled her clothing when she was not taken to the toilet.

Another elderly patient died on a trolley because of negligent care.

* The death of a young male assault victim who had been denied proper treatment and turned away from the hospital.

* Hospital chiefs falsified records, bullied and mismanaged dozens of emergencies.

Christine described the CMC response to her disclosure as "amateurish and inept".

The CMC 'devolved' her disclosure to Steve Hardy, the Director of the Queensland Health Ethical Standards Unit for investigation.

Steve Hardy then seemed to 'devolve' the investigation on to district health manager Kevin Hegarty and other agencies.

Christine said that she was dumbfounded to discover that most of the complaints that she listed in official incident reports weren't investigated at all.

Rob Messenger, Member for Burnett, backed Christine Cameron's call for a royal commission into the CMC.

Rob Messenger said that the CMC seemed to be under-resourced and undermanned and that there had been a cover-up.

Christine believes her complaints are circulating between the department's ethical Standards unit, the Health Quality and Complaints Commission and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

" We have created a number of investigative bodies who spend much time writing letters back and forward to each other in an attempt to shift responsibility somewhere else," Cameron says.

Christine is aware that come complaints about management were referred back to the managers she initially complained about.

"I fear many of my complaints have been ignored," she says.

"However, I did my duty."

"It is a requirement under my Code of Conduct to report malpractice and unethical conduct and I have done so honestly with no regrets."

Christine praised Rob Messenger for his "relentless quest for the truth".

"He's a champion," she says.

May 2011 Update :

With Christine Cameron at his side, Member for Burnett Rob Messenger has launched a petition calling for a royal commission into corruption in Queensland.

Supporting Mr Messenger’s call for the inquiry, Mrs Cameron said the Crime and Misconduct Commission ( CMC ) was not doing its job.

She claimed evidence she gave to the CMC about abuses at Bundaberg Hospital was ignored.

“The CMC doesn’t want to do anything, they just rubber stamp what Queensland Health says,” Mrs Cameron said.

December 2011 Update :

Stephen Limkin's film Suffering in Silence : concerns the on-going problems at Bundaberg Hospital and Rob Messenger's efforts to get something done about the situation.

The problem seems to be systemic - foreign doctors are employed, they can't speak English very well so they can't communicate with patients very effectively, they do not seem to have been properly trained in Australian hospital procedures, the hospital administrators do not seem to care, when complaints are made the records seem to be falsified- and doctors are moved about so nobody can be held responsible for anything.

Rob Messenger asks - have Queensland Health learned anything from the Jayant Patel experience?

The only thing they seem to have learned is to make a better job of the cover-up!

Christine Cameron says how much she loved her job, how seriously she took her job - and how little that fitted her for work at Bundaberg.

The patients - ordinary people like you and me - tell their stories.

It is all pretty dreadful.

To sign the petition for a royal commission into corruption in Queensland, go to Rob Messenger's website :

January 2015 update : Christine has now published her story in her free book 

: I will not die, but live!

Call for corruption probe, Mike Derry, Bundaberg News Mail 17th May 2011,

Watchdog failed me, says whistleblower, Des Houghton, The Courier-Mail 4 December 2009

Queensland Health passing the buck on complaints, p. 76-77, The Courier-Mail, 23-24 October 2010.

Nurse waiting for investigation, Lea Emery, News Mail, 20 October 2010

A Whistleblowing Woman nurse in the Logan Hospital emergency department.

A Logan Hospital emergency department nurse, who does not wish to be named, was working in the emergency department on Tuesday 28 September when mother Renee Jack was left in the emergency department waiting room for more than nine hours without pain medication or treatment while suffering a miscarriage.

"It was one of the busiest shifts I had ever worked in ED," the nurse said.

"The waiting room was absolutely horrendous.. I think the reason people were standing is because a lot of them should have been in ED beds, but all the beds were taken up."

"It's just diabolical what happens with patient care and the way staff are treated."

"If you speak out, you are known as a trouble-maker," the nurse said.

"We have so many stories, it would curl your hair."

"Problems like losing patient information and making mistakes all get swept under the carpet."

"It's totally awful."

"If you talk about it, you get threats made, so you keep your mouth shut because you have families to feed and you just get on with it," she said.

"The Logan-Beaudesert Executive does not tolerate bullying in any form."

"The safety and wellbeing of our staff and patients has top priority," said Logan-Beaudesert Hospital's acting executive director Dr Michael Daly.

"I remember one nurse who spoke out two years ago and she felt quite brave and was confident of change, but she was bullied out within two months," the Logan Hospital nurse told the news.

The Logan Hospital nurse said she had got to the stage where she had to stand up for her personal values and could not live with herself knowing what happened to patients without saying anything.

Logan hospital fails patients : nurse, Jessica Bayfield, Albert and Logan News, 20 October 2010.

20 April 2013 : Toni Hoffman, Christine Cameron and Jo Barber seem to have won!

Toni Hoffman, Christine Cameron and Jo Barber - three courageous Whistleblowing Women who dared to tell the truth about failures in the Queensland medical system that caused harm to patients in their care.

Tbese three women were brave enough and impolite enough to point out the Queensland Health watchdogs had no teeth.

The whistleblowers all suffered for speaking out.

They continue to suffer.

But by doing so, they did much more than provide comfort to the walking wounded and families who lost loved ones to medical blundering.

These three whistleblowers succeeded in changing the system.

The entire Queensland Board of the Medical Board of Australia will be axed!

Queensland will get a specialist health ombudsman.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and AMA chief Dr Alex Markwell used the same phrase recently when they said many genuine complaints "fell through the cracks".

Now Parliament has been told that five doctors face prosecution.

Lawrence Springborg this week moved to demolish the Queensland Board of the Medical Board of Australia, one of the bodies which investigates complaints.

An investigation by the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission and a series of inquiries and reviews by retired judges, doctors and nurses all found evidence of wrongdoing.

Cases of doctors engaging in conduct ranging from criminal negligence to gross incompetence and laziness were revealed in documents tabled in Parliament.

The inquiries all pointed in the same direction: Queenslanders have been let down by the system, public and private.

The latest inquiry made some astonishing findings.

An investigative panel headed by barrister and former intensive-care nurse Kim Forrester reported that in one case it took 2368 days, or nearly 6½ years, to reach a decision following a complaint.

The Forrester report tabled in Parliament said 60 per cent of the files it examined were not handled in a manner that was timely and/or appropriate and/or in compliance with legislative objectives.

Give Lawrence Springborg his due. He acted swiftly.

Previous health ministers who must have known of many of these gross failures either turned a blind eye, buried their heads in the sand or shoved the cases in the too-hard basket - pick your own cliche.

Springborg said victims of medical mishaps had been treated appallingly.

The Forrester report was tabled alongside the findings of senior lawyer Jeffrey Hunter, who recommended that police consider criminal charges against six medical practitioners.

"These reports paint a deeply disturbing picture of dysfunctionality in the handling of health-related complaints," Springborg said.

"In a majority of cases, delays meant that doctors . . . continued to practise without their competency being assessed and in the absence of safeguards, supervision or monitoring."

The Forrester report also was a stinging rebuke of the role of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, a federal body.

The Forrester panel found clear evidence that, in processes followed by AHPRA, the Medical Board did not provide adequate protection for the public.

Mr Springborg said work on the two reviews was delayed when AHPRA and the Medical Board initially declined to release the relevant files due to confidentiality and privacy concerns.

Mr Springborg has expressed doubts about the federal agency's transparency and accountability.

State takes the lead by exposing quacks in our health system, Des Houghton, The Courier-Mail, 20 April 2013 :

bad Health Queensland

Bad Health Queensland is a new website that has been established to support Queensland Health employees :