Thursday, August 30, 2007

Health Service Horror Stories- reality strikes when it happens to a close mate

There’s nothing to drive home the reality of a problem than seeing it for yourself.
A good friend of mine had a little too much to drink on Sunday night and fell off the third floor balcony of my apartment.
111 was dialled and St John's Ambulance managed a rapid response to my rural north of Auckland location.
But the service at North Shore Hospital was frankly, quite disgraceful.
On entering the hospital things seemed to go smoothly as he was x-rayed, etc.
However, my mate needed a “cat scan” just to make sure all was ok and that was promised for daybreak on Monday morning.
Come Monday morning, no cat scan. Ditto afternoon and evening as my friend just waited and waited.
For a so-called Emergency Care Centre, things did not seem to progress with any speed whatsoever.
So by Monday night, 24 hours or so after arrival, there was still no sign of any cat scan or any further ‘assessments.’
By this time, my friend was getting somewhat frustrated and keen to go home.
He had spent Monday afternoon waiting in a corridor, despite having his own cubicle earlier
Throughout both Sunday and Monday, many patients were cluttering up the corridors on their trolley beds and all the little cubicles were full too.
I also heard a doctor making a comment about all the beds being ‘full.”
Come Monday night, out of frustration, my friend discharged himself from hospital after the hospital somehow ‘forgot’ to assess him or give him his cat scan.
And while obtaining medicine at an Auckland GP yesterday, we discovered the hospital had also not allocated him an ACC number .
Now, for the next few weeks, my friend will be wearing a neck brace, though he should be back at work next week.
I am reluctant to blame the actual doctors and nurses as they all seem to be rushing around like blue arsed flies and it cannot be good for them if stressed out patients might take out some of their frustrations on the hospital staff.
My friend is not the most patient of patients and he did snap at one of them, though he later apologised.
But it all makes you wonder of the human cost of the current health service ‘crisis.’
First of all, patients are not getting the treatment they need, either missing out on services or procedures necessary for effective treatment; delayed treatments may be less effective, and the patients themselves may discharge themselves before they should out of frustration.
Staff are also getting unnecessary abuse, which can only add to their stress or unhappiness, and if they are tired then there is a greater risk of them making mistakes, or simply ‘forgetting’ people, as happened here.
Now, the problems at North Shore Hospital are not new. They have been well covered by the New Zealand Herald.
But as noted elsewhere, isn’t it heartening to know, that rather than looking at how the New Zealand health system might operate more effectively, that we have a health minister more bothered about where John Key sleeps than where hospital patients sleep.
And while Gollum Hodgson spends his time on digging dirt on John Key, at least the local National MPs, Wayne Mapp and Dr Jonathan Coleman, are doing their bit to help to tackle the problem


Paull said...

On the news this morning, Dunedin hospital is advising don't come in unless you are really sick. The problem is apparently caused by winter ills. Maybe this is the first time we have had winter in Dunedin. It was the same a few weeks ago herein Wellington too.

Anonymous said...

And meanwhile the civil servants at the ministry and the 'managers' at the hospital keep on multiplying. Thats the porblem I could fix it one fould swoop Fire half the ministry staff and the and the managers and ask the doctors and nurses what nneds to be done and voila Problem solved

mawm said...

All the money the govt boasts about spending on health went to hiring more managers to make up new forms for Dr's and nurses to fill in, more data for them to collect and more protocols to adhere to.

Gollum even said at one meeting that NZ had the money to increase the health spending, but did not need to as it was approriately funded for a society such as ours.

The new Auckland hospital is under resourced - insufficient theatre space, not enough beds, not enough nursing staff, etc. It is a daily fight do get one's work done.