Oh my God – Labour is outraged. We have a Minister who actually visits hospitals, to see how they are doing – and without notice.
Health Minister Tony Ryall has been forced to admit he has been making secret visits to emergency wards, gathering intelligence.
In breach of the usual ministerial protocol, Mr Ryall has not warned staff he’s on the way, nor has he introduced himself when he has arrived.
“If I’m in a city or a town and I’ve got a spare five or 10 minutes, sometimes I drop by the emergency department to sit quietly and see what’s going on for a few minutes,” Mr Ryall says.
“Maybe talk to some patients, see what’s going on and how long they’ve been waiting. It helps me to keep in touch.”
Superb. A Minister asking patients about the service and waiting times. As Tony says – an excellent way to keep in touch with the real world.
Emergency departments contacted by 3 News didn’t know about Mr Ryall’s visits and had varying views on the practice.
One head of emergency welcomed the undercover Minister, but others thought it was “perplexing”, “insulting and undermining” as well as “creepy and weird”.
Some have questioned his method, labelling it an “unscientific way to gain an impression of an emergency department”.
“Conditions change by the hour, there are protocols for visiting Ministers.”
Yes how dare the Minister gain an unofficial impression. He should only gain the impression that is arranged for him carefully beforehand.
I don’t think Tony is going to make major policy decisions on the basis of his visits. But it is a good way to see at first hand what it is really like for patients.
“I’ve never known a Minister of Health not to abide by protocols working with the clinicians and the management of a hospital,” says Labour’s Associate Health Minister Annette King.
Oh dear. Need more be said.