Thursday, April 13, 2006
Hospital Dumps 1,800 Patients off Waiting Lists
The Hawke's Bay District Health Board has unanimously approved a move that would see 1,800 people cut from its waiting lists. They will have to go back to their GPs with no hope of surgery in the foreseeable future. Board CEO Chris Clarke says the hospital cannot keep up with the rising demand for its services. 12/04/2006NewstalkZB
Gary Moller comments:
This news is hardly a surprise and something we are all going to have to get used to as our populations age and the positionally challenged youthful generations begin to get old and suffer diseases of old age, such as diabetes, osteoporosis and CHD, in their 30's and 40's. The current medical model simply can not cope with the tsunami of ill health.
When I was doing my studies in rehabiliation through the Otago School of Medicine, our lecturers frequently referred to the "dreaded specialist appointment". This appointment was dreaded by rehabilitation health professionals because it signaled that nothing would, or could, happen with a patient while waiting to see a specialist. Of course, this appointment would be several months out and it usually would take more than a few further appointments before anything of substance would happen.
A typical interaction between a therapist and a patient goes a bit like this:
Therapist: "I would like to start you with a gentle exercise programme to begin strengthening your lower back"
Patient: "I am not allowed to do anything like that until I have seen my orthopaedic specialist about my suspected prolapsed disc".
Nothing happens and any opportunity for early and active intervention is lost because a lesser expert cannot pre-empt the specialist that is yet to be consulted. This is very frustrating.
What we know is people on waiting lists do not get better; the rule of thumb is that they deteriorate. Adding to the problem; if a person is unable to work, due to a health problem, the chances of getting them back into productive employment plummets with each week they are laid up. After about 3 months, the odds of getting this person back into employment are looking pretty grim.
I have written about this growing problem many times and published a substantial discussion paper that offers one piece to the jigsaw, as far as solutions are concerned. You can read it here.
Resorting to dumping people off waiting lists is not the solution; although it might help a little over the short term by enabling some kind of intervention to begin, instead of having the patient sit around doing nothing and getting worse. Sadly, general practitioners, who are now being asked to deal with these dumped patients, are poorly equipped to offer lasting solutions to ailments that are mostly the result of ageing, combined with the effects of poor lifestyle and nutrition choices.