Transforming Health SA – Best Care, First Time, Every Time. FAIL!

Transforming Health SA – Best Care, First Time, Every Time. FAIL!

Introduction to Transforming Health SA

Around 2014, the South Australian Labor government launched ‘Transforming Health SA’. According to the official blurb, it is a ‘systematic approach to ensuring all South Australians have equitable access to the best and most reliable health care possible, while making sure our healthcare system is sustainable into the future’.

The vision of Transforming Health SA was ‘best care, first time, every time’.

And the Transforming Health SA values were meant to be centred around six quality principles.

  • Patient-centred
  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Accessible
  • Efficient
  • Equitable

The Accident

September 11, 2009, was a windy day. I was attending a sports day for my children at Cedar College, Northgate, South Australia. A tree fell on my head and back, pinning me to the ground. The impact on my spinal cord severe damage, and this caused paralysis from the chest down. Other injuries include concussion, a laceration to the head, broken collarbone, cracked ribs, damaged sternum, broken leg, broken ankle, a neck fracture, bruising to the face. The bruised heart was the issue that was of most concern to the SA Health staff. They thought I might pass away.

(scroll down for more information about the accident, including a tv report and website news)

I died a few times, and the staff brought me back to life, and I spent 30 days in ICU, and a total of 14 months in the hospital, with the majority in Hampstead hospital. Getting close to discharge, I developed Syringomyelia, a spinal disorder that only affects 1 out of 10,000 people. Chronic pain commenced and has been with me ever since.

The care provided by SA Health was excellent, and the total cost was close to $1,000,000, which I didn’t have to pay, as public health care is free.

The Nurse

During my time in rehabilitation, a nurse helped me greatly with my time there. I considered him to be my friend, and after discharge, he helped my family with various chores around the house. About a year later, my wife left her family to live elsewhere, and shortly after this, my wife admitted she was in another relationship. I determined that the new man was the nurse.

My mental state deteriorated, and after I attempted self-harm, I sought mental health care. The advice was all the same. Report the nurse, as he has violated the code of conduct. I provided reported to SA Health and AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency). SA health determines if the nurse should remain employed with them, and AHPRA decide whether the nurse should keep their license to practice nursing. There was ample evidence, and I provided it to both investigating bodies.

SA Health Investigation

Months later I received a message from the nurse bragging about the fact that the SA Health investigation was over. They found he had done nothing wrong. I heard nothing from SA Health. That was the start of problems I discovered with their probes in the conduct of nurses.

SA Health promised to “strive to give the best possible healthcare by listening to me”, and after I reported the nurse, they failed to call me in to interview me.

Another promise they make to patients is to “resolve any problems you may have with our delivery of health care services”. They fixed nothing and didn’t want to hear from me.

I took the matter up with the Health Minister, the Hampstead Hospital manager, the CEO of Health, the DON (Director of Nursing) and others. They all toed the company line and said: “your complaint is being taken seriously”. The CEO of Health said the evidence provided was considered. An important statement, which I will return to later.

AHPRA Investigation

Typically a medical practitioner would “man up” and tell the truth, following the formal report and the start of the investigation by AHPRA. But this nurse didn’t man up. He lied and didn’t tell the truth for four years. In the period of 1,460 days, AHPRA and the nurse’s union were spending money on legal and other expenses. The “good” nurses of SA Health were paying for years of legal fees for the “not so good” nurse. If I were a nurse paying union fees, I would ask whether the union is attempting to recover the cost of representing a union member who misleads them.

AHPRA suspended the nurse’s registration for two years and suggested he should not re-apply. They said the “grave departure” from professional standards and cancellation of the nurse’s registration would send a stern warning to other health workers.

Comparing the two investigations

According to the nurse, SA Health determined that he had done nothing wrong. Apparently, it was ok for a nurse employed by SA Health to behave this way.

If AHPRA and SA Health both considered the same evidence (as stated in the letter from the SA Health CEO) and came up with a different conclusion, there is something seriously wrong with the processes for SA Health investigations.

I feel the probe only asked the nurse whether he did something wrong, and the answer was NO.  SA Health was telling me “You don’t get a professional investigation, perhaps you should get another partner?”.

Maybe they were short of nurses?

I am concerned that it could happen again to another patient. So much for Transforming Health SA.

Further Reading

  • AHPRA cancelled the nurse’s registration for two years and suggested that he should not to re-apply.
  • The South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal result can be read here.
  • A follow-up story, as many readers of the newspaper, were asking about the well being of the patient.

media report about the tree falling on me Transforming Health SA