Another day, another reason why we need urgent action to fix a ‘steaming turd’

19 October 2021

A top Adelaide surgeon has quit the RAH in disgust, describing the public health system as a “steaming turd”, The Advertiser reports.

Adelaide cardiothoracic and trauma surgeon Craig Jurisevic says patients are “waiting dangerously long for life saving surgery.”

It comes in a week when the RAH intensive care unit was staffed at “unsafe levels”, on Monday night, with seven nurses working double shifts, an internal safety report revealed. The report logged to SA Health’s Safety Learning System noted the ICU had 41 patients at the time and “no contingency left for further admissions”.

The headline in The Advertiser read Lives at risk from ‘overworked’ RAH medics.

Dr Jurisevic will cease all clinical activities at the Royal Adelaide Hospital including outpatient clinics until resources are improved, saying the situation is leading to “avoidable lung cancer deaths”.

Dr Jurisevic says national and international guidelines for best practice in Stage 1 and 2 lung cancer specify a delay of no more than 30 days between diagnosis and surgical treatment, and the mortality rate increases significantly with delays beyond six weeks, The Advertiser reported.

“As it happens, most patients referred for surgery are well along this timeline by the time we see them,” he has told officials.

“This makes the urgency for surgery within 7-14 days of review critical. This is not an attainable goal in the current situation.

“As a result, I can no longer in good faith see patients in clinic knowing that their treatment will be delayed beyond what is recommended by national and international bodies.”

Dr Jurisevic, who has the support of colleagues, says “the system is overwhelmed” – even before the borders open to an expected surge in COVID cases.

He has told colleagues CALHN chief executive Lesley Dwyer is doing the best she can but “has been handed a steaming turd and, no matter how much her superiors tell her to dress it up, it’s still a steaming turd.

“Until the SA Government staff and fund our hospital fully, South Australians will continue to receive substandard care, and we will continue to see avoidable lung cancer deaths,’’ The Advertiser quoted him.

He says as soon as the resources are available to treat people appropriately, “I’ll be back”.

Dr Jurisevic also says SA Health is transferring many cases to private hospitals at great expense to the taxpayer rather than increasing staffing at the RAH.

In response to the escalating health issues in this state, the ANMF (SA Branch) has launched an Action for Health campaign imploring people to sign our letter to MPs, telling them “I believe the Government simply must invest in more health care staff and more resources or it risks plunging the entire state into an unprecedented health crisis’’. 

Please join the campaign here