Doctor claims deaths hidden

Hamish Heard
A senior Victorian medico has called on State Government to come clean on how many patients have died waiting for medical treatment at Geelong Hospital.
The doctor claimed the Government was silencing local physicians as patients died trying to climb Barwon Health waiting lists.
Former chairman of medical chairs Dr Peter Lazzari accused the Government of secrecy in the lead up to the election.
Dr Lazzari said the Government forced him to resign in June after he publicly demanded information about deaths on waiting lists in Melbourne.
“It’s quite clear to me that doctors at Geelong Hospital and Barwon region hospitals have also been intimidated for wanting to speak out about the current situation,” Dr Lazzari said.
The Government’s unwillingness to sanction an independent audit showed the state was hiding the extent of waiting list deaths in regional Victoria, he said.
“The people of Geelong, just like all of regional Victoria, have an absolute right to know the results of this audit,” Dr Lazzari said.
“The data is readily available to government for a comprehensive audit of every region in Victoria but it’s being kept from all Victorians, including the doctors.”
Dr Lazzari recently came under government fire after defying a gag order and calling Premier Steve Bracks “the funeral director” in Melbourne media.
Dr Lazzari was referring to public health failures which, he claimed, led to more than 500 patients dying on hospital waiting lists each year.
He believed regional patients were even more vulnerable to shortcomings in the health system due to a doctor shortage “crisis” in country areas.
A Barwon Health spokesperson denied the Government had gagged local doctors from talking about problems in the health system.
Health Minister Bronwyn Pike’s spokesperson accused Dr Lazzari of “scare mongering in the last week of an election campaign”.
“A lot of those people (on the list of 500 who died on waiting lists) were waiting for operations on non life-threatening conditions,” the spokesperson said.
He called on Dr Lazzari to prove that people on the death list had died because the waiting list was too long.