Red tape adds to mum's pain
WHEN navigating stairs ended in continually lost footing, sitting became excruciating and pain was a constant shadow, a Warwick woman – then in her late 20s – knew something was terribly wrong.
The symptoms began about 16 years ago, but now the 36-year-old petite woman said the chronic pain in her pelvis was unwavering, and the stress amplified after having to battle with Warwick healthfacilities and Centrelink since 2004.
She is unable to be identified, as her Centrelink application rejection appeal is set to be heard at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) – which provides independent review of a range of administrative decisions made by Australian government and some non-government bodies – in Warwick on Tuesday.
“Every day I rate my pain about five out of 10. That’s all day every day, but once a month it is much worse,” the mother of two said.
“I’m unable to work a full-time job because I can’t sit, stand or walk for a long period of time, but I want to work a couple of half-days a week, have purpose and not sit at home and vegetate.”
The Warwick mum said the desire to support her family was hindered by red tape as medical professionals “failed to recognise” her condition and provide assistance when compiling forms to complete her application to Centrelink for financial aid.
“You can see by the X-ray (pictured left) my pelvis bone is skewed and the pubic synthesis (cartilage which stabilises the pelvis) is basically non-existent,” she said.
“I obtained my medical records and it states during the birth of my second child at the Warwick Hospital in 1994 the placenta and membrane was manually removed as my cervix had clamped for over the placenta, but my cervix was torn and the cord broke while I was under nitrous oxide (pain relief also known as laughing gas).”
The woman said there was “ongoing” lower back, pelvis and left hip pain, and through medical consultation, a Toowoomba orthopaedic specialist commented the deformity of the pubic synthesis “may be related to childbirth or be congenital”.
With a pending AAT hearing, the woman visited Warwick Hospital this week to gain medical information and assistance, but her consultation was terminated prematurely, treatment refused and she was escorted from the building by unidentified security.
“There’s a difference between being frustrated andassertive. I didn’t raise my voice, but I did say the word ‘bloody’ once,” she said.
“In my report at the Warwick Hospital in 2007 it said I needed to consult with an oncologist. I was not told by the doctor to do this, I don’t have experience in the medical profession and this was the reason my Centrelink application was knocked back.”
“I asked for their (Warwick Hospital staff) names, but they hid their name tags and hid them in their pockets,” she said.
“I needed help but was escorted from the building but – to their credit – I was contacted and (a Warwick Hospital staff member) apologised the next day.”
Warwick Hospital Director of Nursing Megan O’Shannessy said she was unable to comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality.
“As with all other Queensland Health facilities, Warwick Hospital has a zero tolerance for abuse of staff members,” Ms O’Shannessy said.
“Physical and verbal abuse towards staff is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. All staff members make every effort to help, but if a patient’s behaviour is unacceptable, security staff are asked to escort that patient from the health service.”
Ms O’Shannessy said it was “not normal procedure” for staff members to conceal their badges.
“However, if a staff member feels threatened they may resort to this action,” she said.
“In a situation like this, the most senior staff member (usually the Director of Nursing) would always be clearly identified to the patient.”
As for the Warwick woman who says she has been “hitting my head against brick walls since 2004”, she hoped sharing her story would prevent others from enduring the same difficulties.
“It’s difficult if you’re trying to do the right thing and you can’t get help,” she said. “There’s so such much red-tape and going backwards and forwards, I could write a book about all this, but it’s sad it got this far.
“If people were transparent and forthcoming processes like this wouldn’t be so difficult.”