OPINION: Hospital hijacked by those who claim they care

IT is 3am on a Friday morning and I am in bed unable to sleep.

I’m actually in a ward at Wodonga Hospital.

In fact, I understand that I will be the last patient in this bed as this ward will close tomorrow.

But here I am, in a government facility that has given me outstanding care since I arrived 48 hours ago in an ambulance.

Whether it is the cleaner, the paramedics, the nurses, the cooks, the doctors, or the person who keeps my jug filled with iced water, I am witnessing nothing but a superb demonstration of round-the clock teamwork and dedication.

Lying in my bed or wandering around, I am somewhat surprised that I am hearing no recriminations or vindictive talk by any hospital staff who face uncertain futures.

To me these people, who I suspect will all be affected by the closures, are true professionals.

And this is despite someone in the government announcing last year that nurses were “putting people’s lives at risk” by temporarily closing beds during industrial action.

The only vindictive talk and lack of teamwork that I observe has been exhibited by ministers in Canberra and Melbourne as they try to outdo each other’s spin on who is to blame for these bed closures, rather than sitting down and finding a solution.

Politicians still don’t seem to get it that we are increasingly tired of their constant blame games.

It might be good political theatre and makes them happy, but what will make the community happy are assurances that MPs are getting on with fixing the problem.

I am wondering if this issue could be related to a magazine article I have been reading that discusses who the community most trusts in Australia.

Nurses and doctors are (again) in the top six most trusted professions out of 100, while politicians are in the bottom 10.

Displays of photographs, media clippings and plaques in the Wodonga hospital foyer record the work of local groups and individuals who have invested thousands of hours and millions of dollars in this hospital since 1954.

Sadly, those who are still alive will now watch people in Melbourne and Canberra force bed closures in what the locals could justifiably call “their hospital”.

Imagine if people in Melbourne were told that they will be shipped to Bendigo, Ballarat or Traralgon to get a hospital bed.

Why do we put up with it?

We don’t want a car race, an enhanced arts centre or a larger footy ground, we want to preserve our hospital.

We should expect better of our local federal and state MPs, but even they appear to be relatively silent on this issue in the media.

I seem to recall that regardless of whom we voted for at the last election, all candidates promised improved healthcare — as they always do.

If our local MPs have been frantically trying to solve the problem, fantastic.

But I would like to know how much advocacy they have done on behalf of the good citizens of Wodonga, how many ministers’ doors they have opened and how much jumping up and down they have done on the issue in the party room and to relevant ministers?

If the staff at Wodonga Hospital can so quietly, efficiently, skilfully and with great care, demonstrate such teamwork every day of the year, why can’t a few people in Melbourne and Canberra operate in the same way?

Most problems, even very tough issues, can usually be sorted out — it’s a natural activity for people every day.

And why are MPs never asked to make greater efficiencies, reduce their services, and rationalise their operations?

In about three hours, a smiling nurse will check my temperature, blood pressure and attend to some other personal matters.

A pretty good service from a nurse who has worked all night and is still unsure what tomorrow brings.