Intended for healthcare professionals


Back to punishment in New South Wales

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 04 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1111
  1. Thomas B Hugh, retired surgeon (
  1. Roseville, New South Wales

    New South Wales in Australia appears to be reverting to its origins as a penal colony, if the interim recommendations of the special commission of inquiry into Campbelltown and Camden Hospitals are any guide.

    The hospitals, on the southwestern outskirts of Sydney, serve a population of 800 000 people. In November 2002 four nurses made 71 allegations to the then state health minister, Craig Knowles, about “unsafe” care of patients in the hospitals. The allegations were referred to the Health Care Complaints Commission and were investigated. The commission's report of December 2003 focused on the systemic problems underpinning many of the adverse events, particularly under-resourcing and under-staffing. The report's accounts of individual cases will be familiar to any doctor working in a modern hospital, describing clinical errors of judgment, fumbled handovers, delays in treatment, and poor communication.

    Nurses have been spat at

    The government was incensed that blame had been laid at its feet. The complaints commissioner was sacked, …

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