Hospital phone system could be indicator of bigger problems

Letters to the editor

Recently I endured the nonsense of service at the hands of Gosford Hospital’s telephone equipment.

A very old friend is currently incarcerated in one of the wards, so I phoned from about twelve hundred kilometres away to have a chat and learn of health progress. The call was automatically answered by the robot saying “you have reached obliterated, silenced, no name hospital. “Please call 000 and ask for ambulance if experiencing chest pains, otherwise press 1 for patient enquiries, 2…4, through to hold for an operator.” So I pressed 1 hoping that I had Gosford Hospital and not the hospital in that well-known Queensland town of ‘Tomorrow’. Minutes later and still no answer, so I terminated and redialled. I held to speak to an operator who then promptly sent me through to Patient Enquiries before I could explain that no one was answering that extension. Again no answer, so I dialled again. This time, because I fortunately remembered what ward my friend was in, I was able to demand connection with that location. Eventually, a probably overworked nurse with hard to understand accent answered the phone with little, if any, courtesy. A minute later I was talking with my friend.

The pleasure however was much marred by the corded phone he was talking on behaving like a cheap cordless phone with uncharged or defective battery, every third word disappeared. Additionally his handset discriminated against him, as it was not a telephone designed for use by deaf people. Australia ratifi ed the Convention Against Discrimination of Disabled People about eight years ago. On another matter, I wonder whether the hospital board and senior management have spectacularly failed to implement standard operating procedures to ensure that equipment is subjected to routine examination to ensure ongoing operability. The phone recording however, has been defective the whole week that I have been phoning Gosford Hospital.

If they cannot get it right with the primary public representation, what confi dence exists that dangerous equipment such as gas cylinders, valve delivery apparatus, saws, drills, monitoring and radiation driven apparatus is safe around the employees and public? I have just had a situation in another state where, after 12 months of cover up, it is now evident that no such procedures were in place, that so called medical professionals were not trained (to most tradesmen and untrained people a common sense issue), to stop using faulty equipment, in other words, once proven dangerously faulty, to cease using all such equipment.

That management has no standard periodic inspection in place to prevent faulty equipment occurring and no maintenance agreements in place to rectify dangerous equipment identifi es a further lapse of good practice. In many instances, I suspect that international ISO compliance certifi cates have been issued. Even worse was the fact that the government bodies supposed to protect the public and taxpayer’s funds cannot understand the signifi cance of the failures occurring or the ramifi cations for other similar institutions. In my book, don’t rectify the problem, just crucify the messenger just to divert attention from incompetence and don’t say ‘thank you’.

Letter, Dec 8, 2016 Richard Newby, Green Point