Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Kate Hawkesby: I've seen first hand how swamped our health system is


Like a lot of parents I imagine at the moment, I got the call up to the school sick bay yesterday to collect my daughter. Not another respiratory virus thank goodness, but a shoulder injury. School suggested I take her to A&E or a doctor to check it out.

Now anyone who has been sick lately, or paying attention to the news, knows that now is not the time to try to see a doctor or try to get into an ED. So I waited to lay eyes on my daughter to see how bad it was, because if we could avoid attempting to see a health professional at the moment that'd be preferable. But as soon as I saw my daughter with her arm in a sling and the state of her pain, I knew we needed to get an expert opinion and possibly an ultrasound or X-ray. 

So I called ahead to check wait times. I tried our GP first. She was fully booked - she’s never not - so that was no surprise. “Could any other Doctor see us?” Not for a few hours, but yes it was possible. So I booked a slot but thought I may as well try our local ED's just in case they weren't too busy, I mean it was 10am on a Tuesday, how bad could it be?

As it turns out, bad.

The one closest to us? One hour wait minimum. Maybe more. Called another one further away - two hour wait time. Called a third - when I asked what the current wait time was she sighed, “at least 4 hours” she said, “it’s chaos in here”.

No kidding.

We were experiencing nothing other families aren’t currently experiencing when trying to access health care at the moment. Lengthy wait times, lack of staff, over booked GP’s, over run ED’s and stressed nurses.

So we reverted back to plan A - see a doctor in a few hours. We turned up at our allotted time. By this point of course my daughters injury was causing her extreme pain, but as I reminded her, there’d be many others a lot worse off, so we’d just wait. We turned up for our appointment and waited. And waited. And waited. In the car. Our GP clinic won’t let people wait in the waiting room anymore. That policy came in during Covid and for some reason it’s stuck. 

So we sat in the car, her in agony, waiting until finally my phone rang. “Sorry,” the receptionist started, “but the doctor is running at least another half an hour behind, can you come back later?”

We had no choice of course but to go away - with little faith that when we returned later we wouldn’t be waiting again for however long. But it made me acutely aware of how much worse it must be for parents of babies who’re desperately ill, or elderly people.

How scary to show up and be turned away or made to wait hours on end. It’s not the fault of the frontline health professionals of course. 

They’re doing their best in stretched and trying circumstances, with staffing issues, recruitment problems, lack of decent pay and conditions, and in a winter full of awful bugs swirling around. A closed border for two years hasn’t helped.

Ironically the shut border was supposed to prevent this exact outcome, but here we are. Health system swamped.

And not just the hospitals in crisis, but GP's and Emergency Clinics too.

Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.


Anonymous said...

perhaps instead of wasting time looking into 'monopoly' in supermarkets, govt should look into 'monopoly' in healthcare...
if free market doesn't work and socialised care doesn't work, what are the other options?

Anonymous said...

Firing people who for whatever reason did not want to get vaccinated could not have helped when you were already short handed. The U.K. were smart enough to not go down that route when it became apparent that a number of their health workers were prepared to walk rather than be forced to get vaccinated.

Given the apparent chaos, why are the poor beggars who were shown the door not being welcomed back with both arms? If it is okay for vaccinated workers with covid but without symptoms to work, then clearly the main point is whether you are actually sick or not, not whether you were jabbed.

Have we lost sight of the "main thing", that is a functioning (staffed) health system?

Anonymous said...

I sit here at home, with years of experience as a doctor, in child and adolescent mental health, and yet I am banned from working for no other reason but that I am covid unvaccinated.
Thousands of experienced nurses do the same.
I’ve heard a of doctor with an unvarnished record serving patients with eating disorders, who is likewise banned.
I have been told NO DHB will even allow me to provide telehealth services for them.
This is not poor management of a crisis.
This is government evil masquerading as Kind.
When I read the heart wrenching stories in our disgusting press, of the dreadful crisis ( or, if one is taking Comrade Little’s point of view, the minor, ‘flu driven’ hiccup) that New Zealanders everywhere are suffering, I , too, am sickened.

Anonymous said...

Everything is falling apart in nz post covid and it seems to be deliberate. There were many stories in the paper about british doctors who could not get their visa extended to stay here. You only have to walk down queen st to see the way society has changed. There seem to be more criminals and no hopers tgan normal people now. It's fifficult to sleep at night due to the gangs taking over the streets amd driving up and down with their siren music. No police anywhere. $10 for a lettuce, no homes. The whole place is 3rd world. We only have 5 million people, soon to be 3 million at the rate of everyone leaving. The health system failing is just another example of many

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with the above comments, in the biggest time of need, the covid policies the Govt has come up with have knee-capped the health system which has been screaming out for help for years. In the 1950s NZ was near the top of the list of countries with great health care.
Due to a lack of continued effort and support, few new facilities were built, and low pay meant many who trained in NZ left for higher pay overseas.
Now along comes covid, we have a choice to take the shot but it turns out that if you choose not to you lose your job in many industries.
Due to people's choices not to put a mostly untested and experimental drug into their bodies, our healthcare system has some 1500 fewer workers in a system that was already struggling and I imagine more would have left due to stress or adverse reactions. Not to mention if you go against the covid propaganda narrative you could lose your license to practice. (Alarm Bells anyone!)

This has been an extremely unsettling emotional time for everyone and I couldn't imagine how frustrating it must be waiting with a sick or injured child in immense pain for hours on end for a doctor who is only going to rush you through and probably hasn't eaten all day or had a break.

The govt needs to get their priorities straightened out that's for sure.

Regards Craig