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Bronnie Taylor makes NSW hospital gaffe in Covid Twitter spat with Chris Minns

A high-profile politician’s attempt to refute claims of a health crisis in Australia’s hospital system has failed spectacularly.

NSW Regional Health Secretary Bronnie Taylor has been locked in an escalating Twitter spat with opposition leader Chris Minns for the past two days.

Mr Minns posted a riveting photo of a woman in a wheelchair queuing for treatment in a tent outside an emergency room of a NSW hospital, roughing it up in the freezing cold.

Ms Taylor fired back with her own tweet, saying the tents were not overcrowded but to screen patients for Covid before going in, as was “global standard”, with photos of four overseas hospitals to prove it.

However, three of the examples she used were of hospitals so overwhelmed with Covid patients that they had no beds, and another was a vaccine queue.

NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns posted a photo of a woman in a wheelchair queuing for treatment in a tent outside an NSW hospital ER, roughing it up in the freezing cold

NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns posted a photo of a woman in a wheelchair queuing for treatment in a tent outside an NSW hospital ER, roughing it up in the freezing cold

One showed huge tents set up by NATO outside the Center Hospitalier du Luxembourg in April 2020 to increase the capacity by 1,200 m² with beds for 200 Covid patients.

Another was a tent outside Cremona Hospital in Italy in March 2020, when the north of the country was one of the hardest hit places in the world.

More than 15 million people were in one of the worst lockdowns of the entire pandemic and 463 were already dead.

A third was a large white tent outside Queen’s Medical Center in West Oahu, Hawaii, in August 2021, after ER capacity surged three times at a time — many sick with Covid.

Finally, a wall of tents outside London’s St Thomas’ Hospital was supposed to house a huge line of people waiting for Covid booster injections last December.

Taylor admitted she should have used several photos to make her point, but said she was trying to explain that the tents in NSW hospitals were being used for Covid screening, not treating patients.

One showed huge tents set up by NATO outside Center Hospitalier du Luxembourg in April 2020 to increase capacity by 1,200 m² with beds for 200 Covid patients

One showed huge tents set up by NATO outside Center Hospitalier du Luxembourg in April 2020 to increase capacity by 1,200 m² with beds for 200 Covid patients

Another was a tent outside Cremona hospital in Italy in March 2020, when the north of the country was one of the hardest hit places in the world

Another was a tent outside Cremona hospital in Italy in March 2020, when the north of the country was one of the hardest hit places in the world

Mr Minns claimed the photo he posted showed that the reality of NSW emergency rooms was that patients were trapped outside in tents during the winter.

‘Not because of employees who work under extraordinary circumstances. But because we have a government that has been failing for more than a decade,” he wrote.

‘Didn’t listen to their own staff who screamed for more support. And failed to invest in this critical area.

‘Patients who go to the hospital in their time of need deserve better. NSW deserves better.’

Ms Taylor accused the opposition leader of “playing politics” and insisted the use of tents was in line with World Health Organization guidelines.

Tents are a global standard in Covid screening and patient safety. It is incorrect to suggest that this is a failure of the health system,” she wrote.

“Don’t play politics with health, Chris. To be better. I’d be happy to tell you how the system works.’

Labor called Ms Taylor’s tweet ironic as she defended herself against a claim that NSW hospitals are in crisis using photos of hospitals that were actually in crisis.

Finally, a wall of tents outside London's St Thomas' Hospital had to accommodate a huge line of people waiting for Covid booster shots last December

Finally, a wall of tents outside London’s St Thomas’ Hospital had to accommodate a huge line of people waiting for Covid booster shots last December

Mr Minns doubled down on Wednesday night by posting a video of himself outside Canterbury Hospital in Sydney’s south west at 8.30pm, complaining that the ER was overcrowded.

He pointed to tents in the background that he claimed were being used as a makeshift waiting room, as hospitals were too overworked with understaffing.

“There’s an entire emergency department behind me, as you can see the tent in the foreground with people waiting there to be vibrated by the nurses,” he said.

“They tell me it’s a full house tonight. This is clearly an example of an overworked, very heavy emergency room at the moment.’

He added in the video caption: ‘That’s how it is in NSW hospitals now. Four out of ten patients are not treated on time. And health workers are running from the ground.’

However, according to Ms Taylor, the hospital’s ER was not full at the time and patients in the tents were pre-screened for Covid before going in for treatment.

Taylor reprimanded Minns for both the photo of the woman in the wheelchair and his video, demanding that he apologize for misleading the public.

Chris Minns not only deliberately misleads the people of our state, but also undermines their trust in our health system. As a nurse, I am shocked,” she said.

“These screening tents are being used in hospitals across the state, the country and the world. He would know this if he spent more than a few minutes for social snaps outside our hospitals.”

Ms Taylor said there were a total of 35 patients, including 10 patients in the waiting room and four symptomatic patients awaiting screening results in the tent, and no ambulances waiting to transfer patients.

Nearly 95 percent of patients who arrived by ambulance were handed over to hospital staff within half an hour. The NSW Health target is 90 percent.

“Overall, the timeliness of care for ED patients has been excellent in challenging circumstances and a credit to everyone who works there,” she said.

“The Labor leader shows both a lack of integrity and maturity in effectively attacking our hard-working NSW hospital staff who are trying to be innovative in providing services to ease the strain on our hospital system.

“This isn’t the first time Mr. Minns has done this, and it has to stop.

“Patients, staff and the NSW community deserve better than this hypocrisy and political scoring from someone who has now clearly labeled himself as unworthy of leading the Labor Party, let alone the state.”

Medical workers claim there is a chronic shortage of staff in NSW hospitals and have staged several walk-outs and protests.

Nurses from Blacktown and Westmead hospitals went out Monday morning after completing shifts to protest a lack of safe nurse-to-patient relationships and “severe understaffing” in ERs.

The demonstrations – not classified as strike action – were part of an ongoing effort by nurses from western Sydney to resolve understaffing that they say led to 18-hour days and long shifts without breaks, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurses from Blacktown and Westmead hospitals walked out Monday morning after completing shifts to protest a lack of safe nurse-to-patient relationships and 'severe understaffing' in ERs

Nurses from Blacktown and Westmead hospitals walked out Monday morning after completing shifts to protest a lack of safe nurse-to-patient relationships and ‘severe understaffing’ in ERs

Brett Holmes, general secretary of the NSW nurses union, said that with the rise of flu and Covid presentations, the two EDs were regularly overwhelmed and authorities had not taken “urgent action” to help combat the problems.

“If we look at the level of frustration and despair, it is quite possible that other establishments will look at this and consider whether they should take similar measures as well,” Holmes told AAP.

“There’s no question that there are similar experiences and feelings in the rest of the health system, whether our members choose to follow the same pattern or do something different… I just have to wait and see.”

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association said 21 night nurses left the Blacktown hospital, while about 50 gathered in Westmead.

The demonstration comes after about 60 ICU nurses gathered at Westmead Hospital in February due to staff shortages.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet said the flu season was putting extra strain on hospitals, admitting the health system across the country was “under tremendous pressure”.

“It’s been a really tough time in recent years with Covid… But we’ve invested record amounts to get people through this tough time,” he said.

He said his administration was working closely with the federal government “to make sure we get better systems to put downward pressure on our public hospitals.”

The demonstrations were part of an ongoing effort by nurses from western Sydney to resolve understaffing, which they said led to 18-hour days and long shifts with no breaks, exacerbated by the pandemic

The demonstrations were part of an ongoing effort by nurses from western Sydney to resolve understaffing, which they said led to 18-hour days and long shifts with no breaks, exacerbated by the pandemic

The state government previously said it is aware of the pressure on nurses and has met with the union to address their concerns.

Mr Minns said the Perrottet government failed to staff the hospitals adequately, causing one in 10 patients to leave EDs due to delays.

“This has now led to this situation where we have a crisis in hospitals across NSW, especially in the west of Sydney,” he said.

“This is something the government doesn’t want to talk about.”

Additional reporting by Australian Associated Press.

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