As an emergency physician in Melbourne, fatigue is settling in. The political blame sport isn’t serving to | Stephen Parnis | Opinion


I work with inspiring folks in emergency drugs. Doctors and nurses whose compassion units a benchmark I try to observe, and allied well being staff and assist workers who quietly and humbly present care to individuals who might be having the worst day of their lives.

Sarah is a senior nurse I’ve recognized for 20 years. She is calm in a disaster, sensible and assured. She is a colleague I flip to once I discover the going tough. Collectively, we commonly present medical and nursing management in one in every of my emergency departments.

This week, for the primary time I can bear in mind in these twenty years, and regardless of our masks and face shields, I might see that Sarah was distressed and in tears.

We had a affected person who had been introduced in by ambulance, struggling together with her respiration. Sarah was looking for a spot in our division to offer her the evaluation and remedy she wanted, and it was proving inconceivable.

This was the fourth such case in two hours.

Delays, a scarcity of area, folks in ache and misery – these are usually not new to us in emergency. However within the period of Covid-19, it has change into a fair tougher slog, and it will get to us all at some stage. It’s nicely over a month for the reason that second Covid wave hit us, and now we have been underneath the pump ever since.

We’ve got realized in healthcare that to successfully cope with these issues, we should be clear and sincere with one another. We additionally know that assigning blame achieves little or no.

Stephen Parnis at work



Stephen Parnis: ‘We’ve got realized in healthcare that to successfully cope with these issues, we should be clear and sincere with one another.’

What we expertise at work, we see dissected within the each day information. Healthcare employee infections and isolation. Aged care centres dealing with collapse. The each day Covid case quantity, and whether or not the pattern is beneficial or not. The each day demise toll, to which I hope we by no means change into desensitised.

Whereas I can take this information moderately, I can’t abide one other facet of this all-consuming public dialogue – the political blame sport.

My emergency specialist coaching taught me the worth of teamwork, prioritisation and a tradition of collaboration. When lives are on the road, it’s time for the group to be united and centered, studying as we go and debriefing when the disaster has handed.

My years in medico-political management taught me that coverage improvement and decision-making might be complicated, tough processes. All too typically, the adversarial system between governments and their opposition counterparts degenerated into name-calling and private assaults. The end result: poor coverage, regrettable selections and costly, lamentable outcomes.

After we confronted the primary wave of the pandemic in Australia, the sense of impending catastrophe was matched by bipartisan political cooperation and dedication to service – unmatched in my lifetime. The nationwide cupboard course of, speedy allocation of assets, immediate political assist for professional suggestions – all led to the achievement of nationwide preparedness that was unimaginable solely months earlier.

Quick ahead to at this time, and that frequent sense of objective has, to an excellent extent, unravelled.

There are various pressing, critically vital points being confronted by communities right here and overseas. As I write, many aged care amenities stay prone to severely compromised care. Hospitals in Melbourne are struggling underneath the load of affected person numbers and workers roster depletion. Companies of all sizes face the prospect of everlasting closure, and their staff are considering the devastation of long-term unemployment. The psychological well being of virtually each member of the neighborhood is underneath fixed menace.

And but, a lot power is being diverted away from the required, speedy priorities.

I welcome ongoing evaluation of our response to the pandemic at each stage, whether or not it’s a person household making an attempt to deal with lockdown, a enterprise making an attempt to maintain its staff engaged and productive, or a well being setting making an attempt to protect the protection of its staff and the lives of its sufferers.

The query for us on the frontline, the unemployed and the distressed should be “what do you want?”, not “who’s responsible?”.

And this doesn’t solely apply to households, companies and hospitals. It applies to governments, opposition events and the media.

At a time when a lot is at stake, the principle focus for all of us ought to be on saving lives, stopping outbreaks, mitigating financial harm and defending the psychological well being of a complete nation.

Fatigue is setting in, however that can’t be allowed to degenerate into the political video games we tolerate in peacetime.

Dr Stephen Parnis is a Melbourne emergency doctor and a former vice-president of the Australian Medical Affiliation