30 questions to the Health Minister

30 Questions

By the Barrier Truth Editorial Team

NSW Minister Brad Hazzard visited Wilcannia yesterday. The media was not alerted – the journey was leaked – so Mr Hazzard’s purpose in Wilcannia was to fact find, see things with his own eyes, but not answer any media questions. Barrier Truth understands Mr Hazzard stayed in Broken Hill last night and is flying out some time this morning. It seems an ideal time to ask 30 questions of the Health Minister that are crucial to the health and safety of the people of Broken Hill and the Far West. We’ll make sure he gets his paper.    

1. Can we see the COVID plans that the Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) say have been developed since the Pandemic started in early 2020, including the surge plans?

2. Why hasn’t the FWLHD released the surge plans to the workforce or the Unions (BIC, BHTEU, etc), as promised, and as formally requested?

3. Where is the long-time District Disaster Manager? Why has he not been visible throughout the pandemic?


4. Why has the FWLHD Board been invisible during this crisis?

5. Why is the FWLHD Board comprised mostly of people who do NOT live in our local region: Dr Andrew Refshauge (Chair) – Sydney; Ms Mariette Curcuruto – Northern NSW; Ms Michelle Dickson – Sydney; Dr Lilon Bandler – Sydney; Ms Sally Pearce – Sydney; Mr Wincen Cuy – Broken Hill; Mr Paul Kemp – Broken Hill?

6. Why has the FWLHD not been following the Pandemic Plans and Emergency Plans that were/are already in place?

7. Why did the FWLHD make the Director Aboriginal Health, Planning and Community Engagement (Ms Donna Cruickshank) redundant on 30 June 2021, particularly during a pandemic?

8. Why did the FWLHD make the Manager Community Engagement (Ms Darriea Turley) redundant, particularly during a pandemic?

9. Why were the General Manager Broken Hill Health Service and Executive Officer positions removed by Mr Agis in August 2020 under the restructure and during a pandemic?

10. Does FWLHD have a formal agreement in writing that prevents Royal Adelaide Hospital from denying service to people from Broken Hill on account of there being no beds?

11. How many staff and members of the Executive have resigned since Mr Umit Agis became Chief Executive on 13 January 2020? We have the names of the following: Director Nursing and Midwifery – February 2020; Acting Director Finance and Corporate Services – August 2020; Management Accountant; HR Officer; Manager Integrated Care; Infection Prevention and Control Clinical Nurse Consultant; Nurse Manager, Balranald Health Service; Nurse Manager, Wilcannia Health Service; Nurse Manager, Ivanhoe Health Service; Acting Director Performance and Strategy – 24 December 2020; Acting Director Nursing and Midwifery and Site Manager – 4 February 2021; Acting Director Clinical Operations – April 2021; Director Medical Services – 28 April 2021; Director Emergency Department, Broken Hill Health Service; Director Nursing, Midwifery and Broken Hill Health Service Site Manager – 2 July 2021; Director Clinical Operations – 6 August 2021; HR Coordinator – August 2021; Clinical Redesign and Innovation Manager – August 2021; Manager, Nursing Workforce Leadership and Development. We believe others are to follow.

12. Isn’t all of this a sign that staff have lost confidence in the Chief Executive?

13. At the beginning of the outbreak in Wilcannia, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) turned up in Wilcannia to vaccinate the community, but nobody had organised the vaccines, so they were obliged to use the 40 doses that were in the community reserved for second doses, otherwise it would have been a wasted journey. How can such a basic failure in planning occur and who is responsible?

14. Other basic failures in planning include not collecting the swabs taken in Wilcannia for pathology testing. How can such a basic failure in planning occur and who is responsible?

15. Whose idea was it to organise the 30 motor homes and why did it take three weeks?

16. How is that going to be enough accommodation to reduce over-crowing for a population of over 500 people?

17. Are the motor homes for isolating negative or positive cases?

18. Are they going to be shared or are they for a single person at a time?

19. Who is going to deep clean the motorhomes between occupants?

20. Who is providing security to ensure that people comply with their isolation?

21. How are positive COVID patients going to be transported out of Wilcannia and where will they be sent for treatment?

22. What is the bed and ventilator capacity in Wilcannia for COVID positive patients?

23. What is the bed and ventilator capacity at the Broken Hill Health Service for isolating COVID positive patients?

24. Are there any negative pressure rooms within the Broken Hill Health Service for isolating Covid positive patients?

25. Does the air-conditioning system within the Broken Hill Health Service make it impossible to isolate COVID positive patients and prevent the infection from spreading throughout the Health Service?

26. The Government claimed to have consulted with the unions before mandating vaccinations for the workforce. Why was the Barrier Industrial Council and the Broken Hill Town Employees’ Union NOT consulted?

27. Why has the FWLHD still not paid workers in Broken Hill their lawful entitlements, including the last three State pay rises since July 2019?

28. Why has NSW Parliament not sat for more than two months – two desperate months for regional NSW, during which the Government hasn’t been accountable to questions from elected representatives?

29. Last Monday, Parliament was again postponed for the entire Month of September. During a pandemic. Why?

30. Is Government, or is it not, an “essential service”?


This article was first published on 8 September 2021.

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