MORE than a week has passed since Mother Bunyip nosedived into the coffee table and, as of yesterday, she had been shuttled between three different hospitals. Her injuries are nasty but relatively minor, and if she was 30 years younger there is no doubt she would have been home by now. Instead, and at considerable expense to the taxpayer, she has been swallowed by the public health system, where care and compassion are filtered through the bureaucratic imperative. Don't draw the wrong take on that remark -- with the exception of a former East German lady weightlifter pretending to be a nurse ("You vil sit up NOW!") the medical staffers are almost universally lovely, even when on the receiving end of this particular patient's sometimes sharp tongue. The problem is the system, as has become obvious to all the family members who have spent some time sitting by her bed.
Mother Bunyip needs to be in a rehab unit, but no beds are available, so she has continued to occupy a "chronic bed" while being kept on ice until the preferred option is available. In the meantime, other people's ailing mothers are being shunted from this hospital to that because of the general shortage of beds being occupied by people who should be elsewhere. Getting Father Bunyip into and out of the hospital for his daily visits has been an ordeal, again because of an administrative attitude very much divorced from the needs of the moment. The Pater can barely walk these days -- a terrible cross for a man who, in his vigorous youth, represented Victoria in three different sports -- so he needs a wheelchair. Now you might think those conveyances would be easily found in a modern hospital. Not so! On average it has taken over 30 minutes every day to scout one up, get it down to the lobby and load Dad into the seat. If he vacates it, perhaps to sit in the chair by Mum's bed, chances are some questing soul will stick his or her head into the ward and ask to "borrow" it.
One of the nurses blamed Victoria's semi-absent Premier Ted Baillieu, insisting that things had been, and would be, better under Labor. She will not have all that long to wait, as the next election will surely see this do-nothing state government turfed out on its ear, at which point the coven of kept creatures who isolate Baillieu from increasingly anxious members of his party, up to and including out-of-favour members of his own Cabinet, will have to find someone other than themselves to blame. Expect this effort to be entirely successful, as Ted the Twerp's inner circle has demonstrated a remarkable ability to explain away all the very obvious reasons why their boss is on the nose. What they won't talk about, however, is the government's lack of achievements and the absolute void where its conservative principles should dwell.
Now a good start would be roll up the sleeves and reform the hospital system, but that is not likely to happen. With Health Minister David Davis anxious to move to the lower house, where a bid to replace Baillieu is likely to follow in short order, his top priority appears to be scheming and plotting to winkle Prisons Minister Andrew McIntosh out of his safe seat of Kew. In the meantime, the hospitals go unreformed, nurses preach the virtues of voting Labor, and Mother Bunyip is as low as any members of her family have ever seen her.
For God's sake, can't Victorians get just a little taste of a government that believes in at least one of the traditional conservative virtues? You know, like efficiency?
FOOTNOTE: While wheelchairs are in short supply, social workers are laid on thick. Yesterday, a slip of a girl stopped by to see Mother Bunyip, addressed her without invitation by her first name (as if speaking to a child), and then opined that "we wouldn't let you go home until we have sent someone over to see how you can cope."
Wouldn't let! It would be folly for Mother Bunyip to check herself out of the hospital, but she doesn't need the arogance of someone who, unable to satisfy entrance requirements for teachers college, made a career in professional stickybeaking.