false witness...

Dear Beagle Editor, Your readers, many of who are patients of the new South East Regional Hospital, might be interested in our latest media release false witness …

The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) believes that the recent call by Southern NSW Local Health District board member, Russell Fitzpatrick, for Dr Chris Phoon to publicly release his copy of the draft report into orthopaedic services at the South East Regional Hospital (SERH), was entirely inappropriate.

While Mr Fitzpatrick’s action may not have been intended to embarrass the popular surgeon, it surely succeeded in casting further doubt on the capacity of the board, as publicly expressed by the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance.

The BVSRRA believes that the south east community doesn’t need to be reminded of the deafening silence steadfastly observed by Mr Fitzpatrick & his fellow board members in response to the continuing crisis at the South East Regional Hospital (SERH) for the past six months.

Instead of attempting to lecture Dr Phoon on what he should be doing, the BVSRRA believes it is more appropriate to focus on what Mr Fitzpatrick & his colleagues haven’t done over the past six months.

Quite apart from the board’s obvious failure to respond to the situation on behalf of the community & the staff at the SERH, not a word has been forthcoming as to the events that erupted as a result of the decision not to renew Dr Phoon’s contract.

To this day Dr Phoon’s patients & the south east community have essentially been ignored by Mr Fitpatrick & his colleagues. Even now the community does not know who took the decision not to renew Dr Phoon’s contract, who knew about it & the reasons behind the decision. Over the past six months, the Local Health District board has remained mute, notwithstanding the clamour from within the community for an explanation.

Even with the release of the Reid Report confirming the existence of a toxic & entirely dysfunctional culture at the SERH, the board remained silent, clearly demonstrating its own incapacity such that it was necessary for the cabinet of the NSW Government to step-in & remove the board’s chair & CEO.

And Cr Fitzpatrick thinks he has sufficient standing to lecture Dr Phoon?

The BVSRRA has no doubt who the community would entrust with its health & it doesn’t believe for a moment that it would be Mr Fitzpatrick or any other member of the failed Local Health District board.

Instead of attempting to shift the responsibility for this disaster from the board & NSW Health onto Dr Phoon, Mr Fitzpatrick would do better to persuade his board to direct the acting CEO to publish the terms of reference guiding the so-called ‘independent review’ into orthopaedic services at the SERH. The BVSRRA believes that the community could then decide for itself if a campaign to destroy Dr Phoon’s career & reputation remains a work in progress, as many believe is the case.

The BVSRRA believes that it should not be necessary to remind Mr Fitzpatrick & his colleagues that it is Dr Phoon & his family who have been victimised by faceless, nameless & unaccountable individuals, intent on advancing some disgraceful & dishonest private agenda.

That Dr Phoon is expected to defend his family, career & reputation against such dishonest behaviour is a scandal in itself. That the situation has dragged on unresolved for six months, while those responsible for correcting it sat, watched & did nothing is simply unforgiveable.

John Richardson


Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association


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