Two Sydney nurses have unknowingly savaged NSW Health Minister Ryan Park who was nearly barred from entering a hospital ward, before he was mistaken as his predecessor Brad Hazzard.
Sharing the story on TikTok, Kaille – a nurse in Sydney’s Upper North Shore – said she was told by a trauma nurse there was “a minister,” who wanted to “visit patients”.
However she mistook the senior politician for a religious ‘minister,’ and went boot him from the ward.
“It was nine o’clock at night, we hadn’t called a minister and I thought a minister had walked in off the street and start preaching, or just go and talk to a dying person,” she said.
“I went out and was like: ‘Hi, you can’t come in’. For starters, we don’t know the people’s religion. I do have no palliative person here, but it doesn’t sat what religion he is and his family members not here.
“He then goes … I’m the Minister of Health.”
Her friend and fellow nurse Ellie, who also appeared in the video, choked out while laughing: “It was the Minister of Health … and she tried to kick him out”.
The nurses then unknowingly referred to Mr Park as Mr Hazzard – the former health minister who became a constant fixture during the state’s 11am Covid press conferences.
“It was Brad Hazzard,” joked Ellie, not realising he had retired prior to the March state election.
“Apparently he went bright red … but she made him go bright red. (She) humbled him.”
Asked about the video, Mr Park took it in good humour and said he had been sent the video by amused staff and friends.
“We had such a good laugh about me being not recognised when my staff showed me the video. I had a few friends text it to me too,” he said.
“This one time on an unannounced visit, I got security called on me.
“I do feel like I get more candour from staff when they don’t recognise me, and their candour is a good thing, it’s important.”
Wednesday night’s visit was part of Mr Park’s promise to make unannounced visits to hospitals across the state, in order to better understand the challenges in the NSW health system.
Mr Park has also visited other major hubs including the Sydney Hospital & Sydney Eye Hospital, Prince of Wales hospital in Randwick, Nepean Hospital in Kingswood and Wollongong Hospital in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.
The Health Minister said the visits allowed him to have “frank and candid” one-on-one conversations with frontline staff and “get honest feedback”.
“As the father of two boys who’ve had their fair share of sports injuries, I’m no stranger to the health system on a personal level,” he said.
“But these unannounced visits provide me with an insight into the patient experience at other hospitals around the state.”
Mr Park said that while he was regularly confronted with frantic scenes, with staff stretched to capacity due to a chronic nurse and healthcare worker shortages, he commended their hard work.
“I’m going to be brutally honest, it’s not uncommon for me to see hospitals in busy periods,” he said.
“But one thing remains constant, our frontline health workers are consummate professionals operating in very challenging circumstances.
“I’m proud of them, I’m proud to be their minister, and I want to do everything I possibly can to support them to be the best they can be for us.
Prior to Tuesday’s NSW state budget, the government has committed $572m to add 1112 permanent nurse and midwife roles to the hospital system for three years from 2024-25. Hired during Covid, they were initially only funded in the healthcare budget until the end of June 2024.
The government has also announced a $3bn investment to build and upgrade multiple hospitals across Western Sydney, including facilities in Fairfield, Bankstown-Lidcombe and Rouse Hill.
Mr Park’s case of mistaken identity comes after residents in Sydney’s west failed to identify Opposition Leader Mark Speakman.
In a survey of 100 people undertaken by The Daily Telegraph, only nine people could identify the Liberal Opposition Leader across the suburbs of Camden, Penrith, Panania and Rouse Hill. The areas were all across formerly Liberal-held seats that were lost to Labor in the last election.
However, Mr Speakman laughed the incident off.
On Thursday he appeared all-smiles as he began his press conference with: “Well in case you don’t know who I am, my name is Mark Speakman. I’m from the opposition and I’m just here to help you”.
Originally published as ‘I’m the Minister of Health’: NSW MP Ryan Park savaged by nurses during secret hospital visit