Reid’s maiden speech highlights challenges in our hospitals

Dr Gordon Reid gives his maiden speech in Federal Parliament.

The newly elected Member for Robertson Dr Gordon Reid gave his maiden speech in Federal Parliament on Monday evening, surrounded by Labor colleagues and a gallery of supporting locals.

Reid is one of the youngest MPs in Canberra and a proud Wiradjuri man.

In his wide-ranging maiden speech, he gave thanks to his family, his team, local volunteers and community members, including the former member for Robertson Lucy Wicks.

It was his description of a busy hospital emergency clinic however, in which he describes a recent experience in a local emergency ward, that will likely be the most remembered part of his first speech in the Federal Parliament.

“Our hospitals are a place where it does not matter who you are, where you come from or the circumstances leading to your presentation – you will be cared for – and you will be cared for free.

“A place where the lights are always on, a place where you will be met by some of the world’s most highly trained and highly skilled nurses, doctors, and support staff.

“A place where people do not expect to be, and which often is the worst day in their life.

Reid went on to tell the story which led to his decision to run for Parliament after this particular work shift.

“I stand removing my PPE and washing my hands after seeing a patient, and then I hear the sound of the BAT phone, a high pitched shrill, piercing the already noisy environment.

“The sound of that phone, the pre-arrival notification of a critically unwell patient, commands the attention of everyone in the room.

“Over the loud speaker – “BAT CALL”

“So it begins – the team assembles in the resus bay, roles assigned – airway, breathing, circulation, drugs.
We stand, ready, in full PPE – to try to shield us from COVID-19 – face mask essentially suctioned to the face, eye protection and face shield, long splash resistant gown with gloves.

“You feel the sweat running down your face, your neck – but no time to sit, no time to rest, the room must be prepared for the incoming patient … you hear the sirens.

“The ambulance, drives up to the resus bay, having to slow down because of the many other ambulances ramped, filled with unwell patients.

“The doors to the resus bay open, paramedics are doing chest compressions and rescue breaths on the 55-year-old male that was found unresponsive on the floor of his home by his wife and young children.

“Cardiac arrest protocol begins in order to save the man’s life.

“In the time this happens, his wife arrives, understandably distraught.

“Just under 20m away in the waiting room, more patients present within minutes of each other, one with a stroke, another with a heart attack, and many who are unable to afford, or unable to see a GP in a timely manner.

“This on top of a waiting room and sub-acute area that only has standing room remaining, and an acute section without any beds.

“The corridors of that waiting room are not just filled with medically unwell patients, but those fleeing domestic violence, those at risk of homelessness and those who just have nowhere else to go.

“Back in resus, return of spontaneous circulation has occurred, his heart now beating properly again.

“This patient needs to be transferred to ICU for critical care, but there are no beds.

“The stroke and the heart attack need immediate attention, but there are no beds.

“No beds, not enough staff.

“While all of this is occurring, others come through the door – the five-month-old child with a femoral fracture as a result of domestic violence, the 17-year-old in crisis due to a deterioration of their mental health, the 80-year-old presenting unwell, someone’s mother.

“The people that come through the door, on their feet, in a chair, in an ambulance, or in the arms of a loved one, all know one thing, that we will be there for them.

“Shifts like this formed a turning point for me.

“I stand before you today, not because I no longer want to be a doctor … I love being a doctor … but by undertaking this most important role, my skills and my experience will no longer be limited to the bedside.

When people come through the doors of the hospital, they put their absolute trust in those caring for them.

“They know that you will do your absolute best for them, against all odds.

“The decisions you make, will make a difference in their life, for their life – and that is what I want to help bring to this place … the public must, they must be able to trust in us.

“We have been given an incredible honour to represent our communities, and people need to know, and need the guarantee, that they can trust us to do the right thing.”

His speech went on to cover the issues of democracy and accountability and his support of the parliament establishing a federal anti-corruption commission.

A copy of the speech in full can be found on our website attached to this article.

David Abrahams

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