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Article: Whistleblower nurses' credibility under fire - 29 February 2004

The New South Wales Health Minister's handling of the hospital crisis in Sydney's south-west is being questioned, along with the credibility of the whistleblower nurses.

Five nurses came forward last year claiming a high number of unnecessary patient deaths at Sydney's Campbelltown and Camden hospitals.

As a result, the Macarthur Area Health Service Board and its manager, Jennifer Collins, were sacked.

But Channel Nine has revealed new documents from private survey group the Health Round Table shows that the two hospitals were performing better than many others in Sydney.

It claims the survey group documents show recorded patient deaths were actually lower than at other hospitals.

Chief whistleblower Nola Fraser says that is not the case but Ms Collins says Ms Fraser never raised the claims with her.

The New South Wales Opposition leader, John Brogden, says criticism of the whistleblowers is intimidation.

" What we saw again today was a demonstration of the ongoing intimidation of the whistleblower nurses," he said.

" I wasn't impressed by Jennifer Collins testimony.

" I do believe that she bears a good level of responsibility for a lot of the mess we've seen at Camden and Campbelltown."

The Health Minister, Morris Iemma, has supported the whistleblowers, even suggesting that compensation could be in the pipeline.

His stance has garnered criticism from senior medical professionals, who say the health system remains in crisis.