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Old 13-07-2009, 10:37 AM   #1
montag
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Default 'Big Brother' hospital plan angers doctors

THE State Government has a secret plan to track the movement of staff around the new Royal Children's Hospital using radio tags, which has outraged unions and raised fears of setting a precedent in employee surveillance.

Doctors say the plan smacks of Big Brother, and they will refuse to wear the tags when the hospital opens in 2011.

Documents obtained by The Age reveal that, in January last year the project control group for the $1 billion hospital discussed a "comprehensive patient and staff radio frequency identification tracking system".

Despite the fact that the system was specified in the hospital's design and contract more than a year ago, the Government played down the issue when asked about it last week by The Age. A spokesman for Health Minister Daniel Andrews said only that the idea was "still under consideration".

The doctors' union said the first they had heard of the plan was when they were contacted by The Age.

"We were pretty mortified," said Australian Medical Association vice-president Zoe Wainer. "It undermines a sense of trust, and trust in a hospital is a really important issue."

She said she always had one or more mobile phones plus a pager on her, even in surgery, so there was no reason the hospital would need extra technology to find her when she was needed.

"It's a massive breach of privacy. The thought of having managers and bureaucrats being able to take a snapshot of where I am at any time, it undermines trust and integrity, and I'm not confident it's legal."

The idea had some merit for patients, she said "though losing patients is not something I have had experience with".

In 2006, a hospital in the US state of Kansas tested a similar system for patients in the hospital's emergency department and found it helped family members and doctors locate patients they wanted to visit.

Health Services Union secretary Jeff Jackson said the move was "highly suspicious" and the union would seek an immediate meeting with the hospital to hear how the system would work. He said other hospitals had tried to bring in fingerprint identification for staff, which the union had also opposed on privacy grounds.

"All this technology sounds wonderful, but what is required in a hospital is a much more human security presence," he said.

At the recent Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress, unions agreed on a policy on employee surveillance in response to what they said was a growing trend.

"Unions believe workplace technology should be used to improve employees' working lives, not to erode their autonomy," a spokesman said.

"Technologies that allow the employer to monitor workers' whereabouts and performance may have some usefulness when promoting employee safety. But unions strongly oppose the use of such technologies where the major purpose is to spy on employees."

It is illegal in Victoria to monitor employees electronically without their consent.

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Old 15-07-2009, 10:57 AM   #2
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They will refuse to wear the tags and maybe they will stop the plan for now, but even if that happens, they'll introduce it again at a later date; all this is about conditioning people to see how much control of their lives they are prepared to hand over to the ever intrusive big brother state that ultimately wants total control over every citizen.
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Old 15-07-2009, 11:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by drhemp View Post
They will refuse to wear the tags and maybe they will stop the plan for now, but even if that happens, they'll introduce it again at a later date; all this is about conditioning people to see how much control of their lives they are prepared to hand over to the ever intrusive big brother state that ultimately wants total control over every citizen.
I've worked with horses and there is a technique we use when training them called advance and retreat, when you first want to introduce say the bit or saddle to a horse you approach it with say the bit a close as you can get without it running away and then you retreat so the horse relaxes. Each time you advance the horse lets you get a little closer until you can put the bit in it's mouth. This is exactly what the government does to us all the time.
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