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Wednesday, 3 June 1998
Page: 4693

Mr QUICK (10:30 PM) —We have heard so much in the last few weeks about what is happening to our health system, and I would like to read a letter into Hansard to reflect what is happening to the health system in Tasmania. It reads:

Dear Mr Harry Quick

I am writing in regards of this so-called Health System you parliamentary people all seem to have your finger in. Well I'm here to tell you it stinks. By my writing this letter it probably won't make an ounce of difference but at least you know how us average low income people are treated and expected to live, like second class citizens. The RSPCA don't treat animals like this. I am 22 years old, married and have three children. They are aged three and a half, two and a half and three months.

I recently went to my GP about this terrible pain I had been experiencing. He told me after several tests I had Gall stones. So then being referred to a surgeon who is meant to be the best. He tells me I need my gallstones removed but because of my age they would take the gallbladder out too. But there is approximately a 3 year waiting list to have this surgery performed at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Basically, he told me that unless I could pay just under $2000 to have this done or had private health cover I would just have to sit and wait. These people with private health cover or $2000 would have priority over me.

With stupid recommendations of stay away from fatty foods. So I stuck to a strict diet of fruit and veges—five small meals a day. Guaranteed they couldn't live like this.

Anyway, Monday 25th May I started experiencing terrible pain and put up with it knowing of this waiting list and the surgeon's attitude. Tuesday it was worse, so I rang him. He told me to go to the clinic between 9.30 and 10.00 am. When I arrived, after the usual wait, I was told to eat as I should. There wasn't anything they could do, I wasn't the only one in pain nor was I the only one on this waiting list.

Wednesday, 27th May: the pain is just so bad I am nearly doubled over and went to Accidents, Emergency at Royal Hobart Hospital. Not many questions asked but was I down for surgery? What had I eaten all day? My reply: one banana. They gave me a shot of pethidine and sent me home.

Thursday 28th: suffered all day again in terrible pain till I couldn't take any more and back to Royal Hobart Hospital. Again after a four hour wait a shot of pethidine, no questions asked and back home.

Friday 29th: arrived at Royal Hobart Hospital at approximately 10 am to sit in a waiting room for four hours in terrible pain after being called in and sat in a cubicle for a couple more hours. They prodded and poked, took me for ultrasound, took blood, offered me more pethidine which I rejected. After all this to be sent home being told even though I have suffered for a whole week I wouldn't be entitled to surgery, nor will I be moved up the list and if I come back they will admit me for drug relief.

So here it is, Monday, 1st June, seven days later and I am at home in terrible pain, with recommendations of taking Panamax every four hours.

Now tell me, animals don't suffer like this—why should I? And I'm damn sure you big nobs wouldn't have to suffer like this. With three children I am not capable of looking after what do I do?

It's no good going to the Royal. Go in there with gall stones and come out a drug addict.

I am no different than these people with good jobs, on private health cover Just because I am unemployed I have to suffer.

Where's the justice!

So much for this so-called Health System. I don't really know what your job is, but aren't you there for the people of Gagebrook, Bridgewater. I shouldn't have to suffer any more just because I'm not one of the more fortunate people with money.

How can they deny me this operation for anything up to three years? And to top it all off the bloody nurses are on strike—fabulous health system.

Whoever has done this to the system needs shooting, they shouldn't be able to play with people's lives like this. Ha! What a life mine is, spent in bed the majority of the time.

Please, what can you do to help? I'm desperate. By the way, in three weeks, through not being able to eat, I've lost seven kilograms. What will I be like in three years?

Yours sincerely

Kaylene Sturzaker.

And she is not the only one. You might laugh across the road, but these are real people. The health system in Tasmania is in crisis and something needs to be done instead of all the political grandstanding by all people in this House, on both sides of the House, because people like Kaylene are suffering.