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Stoic country residents of Western NSW are being taken advantage of

17 December 2020

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Shine Lawyers have been on the ground in western NSW this week to ensure residents are given a voice before submissions close for the upcoming NSW Regional Health Inquiry. 

National Practice Manager for Medical Negligence, Clare Eves, has spoken to many residents over the past month about their treatment at hospitals within the region. Most are too afraid to speak up or simply don’t understand their rights. 

“We run a lot of confronting medical negligence cases at Shine Lawyers, but the standard of health care in the Western NSW Local Health District has stopped us in our tracks,” Ms Eves said. 

“The situation is out of control. A lack of basic resources, a lack of medical practitioners' presence on the ground, and a lack of proper training are killing people. 

“The shiny facilities are there, but in some communities, flash buildings are nothing more than hollow shells providing locals with a false sense of security.” 

Ms Eves has been in Dubbo this week meeting with community representatives and residents so Shine Lawyers can finalise its submission to the parliamentary inquiry. She also attended a roundtable discussion organised by NSW Shadow Minister for Rural Health Kate Washington. 

Ms Eves says NSW Health has been allowed to get away with an appalling level of care in these regional areas because loyal and stoic country residents don’t understand their legal rights or the health complaints process. 

“People are dying prematurely or are having to live with lifelong injuries due to medical mistakes and nobody is being held to account,” she said. 

“These people need a voice, and they need to be educated on their basic human rights. 

“We are seeing resilient country people being taken advantage of. They are all doing their bit to keep their local communities afloat, but their local health system is failing them when they are at their most vulnerable.” 

Ms Eves says this isn’t about lawyers or politicians, it’s about saving lives and lifting the standard of medical care in these communities. 

“This is an issue that’s close to our heart at Shine Lawyers having represented five children who lost their mother at Dubbo Hospital,” she said. 

The young mum of five presented to Dubbo Hospital with an infected elbow and a simple swab could have saved her life, but a delay in diagnosis saw the infection spread throughout her body and kill her. 

“Now these children are forced to grow up without their mum because the hospital did not provide her with a reasonable level of care. The infection should have been treated with antibiotics and she could still be here today,” Ms Eves said. 

“How many more cases of medical negligence need to be told for something to be done to improve the health system in the Western NSW Local Health District? 

“The system is broken, clinical error after clinical error is going unreported, and medical practitioners who speak out about the issues are ignored or ostracised. 

“These are people’s lives we are talking about here, errors that have dire consequences. 

“We are in this fight with these residents, and we applaud NSW Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park for getting this parliamentary inquiry up and running. 

“What’s crucial now is that we speak to as many people as possible so our submission to the parliamentary inquiry doesn’t just scrape the surface.” 

Submissions to the NSW Regional Health Inquiry close on 13 December 2020. If you wish to speak with Clare Eves regarding your story, please get in touch at 0428 953 769.

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