When the young journalist Keith Murdoch arrived in Gallipoli in September 1915, he was shocked by the incompetence of the British officers and the senseless loss of young Australians life.

Murdoch agreed to take a secret letter written by a war correspondent who based in Gallipoli and smuggle it into Britain.

When the British commander General Hamilton heard about the plan, he had Murdoch detained in France and the letter destroyed.

Foolishly, he allowed Murdoch to continue on to London. The young journalist then wrote his account of the war disaster and showed it to the owner of the Times newspaper, Lord Northcliffe.

Northcliffe then passed the letter on to the British prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith.

The 8,000-word letter was published as a British state paper.

“The enemy in our midst is not the honourable Turk…” Murdoch wrote, “but our incompetent leadership.”

General Hamilton was fired. The Gallipoli peninsula was evacuated, saving thousands more people from senseless slaughter.

And Winston Churchill was sacked from his position as first Lord of the Admiralty.

Gallipoli forged Australia’s national identity.

Not just as courageous soldiers.

But also as outspoken journalists.

100 years later another rebellious Australian, Julian Assange created a whistleblowing website called Wikileaks.

Whistleblowers frequently face social isolation and ruined careers. But that doesn’t stop people speaking out when they see something wrong.

Toni Hoffman was the head nurse at Bundaberg Base Hospital Intensive Care Unit. She raised concerns about the mortality rate of the overseas trained surgeon Jayant Patel during 2002 – 2005.

The hospitals director failed to respond to concerns raised by her, and other members of staff.

Eventually a journalist did a simple google search and found the surgeon had faced disciplinary action for negligence in the United States.

Health bureaucrates had never even investigated his history, before hiring him.

In 2010 Patel was charged with manslaughter. Hoffman’s career was destroyed.

She was subsequently awarded an Order of Australia.

Mohamed Khadra, the Sydney urologist and author, has written several books about the Australian health system. He exposes the perverse financial incentives, avoidable errors and a lack of basic care and dignity in modern hospitals.

Published books include –

  • Making the Cut
  • The Patient
  • Terminal Decline

Philip Nitschke is a former physician.

He has survived conflicts with the Australian Medical Association and the Australian police.

He currently writes, does public speaking and is director of the pro-euthanasia group Exit International.

Caroline Tan is a neurosurgeon whose career was derailed after she spoke out in public about sexual assault,  bullying from some male surgeons and hospital administrators who refuse to address the problems.

She is still experiencing difficulty accessing work in public hospitals.

Charlie Tao is a talented and controversial neurosurgeon practicing in Sydney.

He rides a fast motorbike and undertakes high risk operations on young patients with brain tumors.

He has also survived conflicts the Australian Medical Profession and also accuses some the medical establishment of suffering from a ‘tall poppy syndrome’.

Following a recent spat on social media about the large amounts of fees charged for his service in private hospitals (he is currently unable to practice in Australian public hospitals), a petition is running to allow him to practice in the public sector.

Courage and persistence is what it takes to raise public awareness about serious problems that are usually being covered up by incompetent management.

While Australians don't always like to acknowledge their heros, there are plenty of people in this country who have fought a tough battle for reform. Often paying a huge personal price as a consequence.

© Wikihospitals June 2016