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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.


Wayne said...

dad got a letter saying he had to make an appointment urgently for follow-up to check on his prostate cancer since his treatment, which he had paid for himself to get done in Australia, he rings up , and of course the appointment will be in six months so he has to pay for a specialist as well to avoid waiting.
Taxes are the price you pay for civilisation, so do not complain about poor health services, poor law enforcement and poor education services and poor transport infrastructure if you voted for the goverment that was offering tax cuts at election time,
otherwise make sure you have your own health care provisions, look after your health as much as possible , theres enough information about to tell you what a healthy lifestyle is, it could make all the difference between you ending up on one of those waiting lists or being able to avoid them
and make sure your childs education catered for in a private school.

Wayne said...

who was it who said a soceity can be judged by how it treats its less fortunate? the rule makers can afford private health treatment they will never wait in line. Many cultures keep hteir eldery in the family with the family bearing the burden of looking after them in old age, in the west those people are largely out of sight and out of mind the marjority of the time, and the young surround themselves with others of their own age and good health, they dont give much thought to what will happen to them down the track from livig a life of excess or making sure they should provide adeuately for tehri health or making sure tehy lobby their local MP for better health care, be very afraid because a lot of us who are young and healthy now will end up on those waiting lists later in life and we may be incapacitated until the healthcare system can catch up with us down th track months or even years later.
I ahd never realised what the healthcare system wa like until I damaged my knee leaving me witha limp and unable to run the specialist asked me if I wanted public or private treatment Isaid whats the difference he said three to four years wait, he left out the bit about the $2000 and that was in the eighties, luckily I was financially unemcumbered and had the money to spare, it was still a wait of several months in the private health system. so please people have a think about this, one way or another it will affect you if it doesnt already affect someone you know

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