Health System Woes

So some of you have probably noticed the articles in the Herald over the last few days about poor service at North Shore Hospital:

‘Shoddy’ hospital accused over death
How the hospital failed my daughter

And a few other bits and pieces:
‘Critical’ doctor shortage at Starship Hospital
Hospitals fearful of doctors’ strikes

And I can add to this my own observations from recent weeks – my stepmother went in for hip surgery after a fall, and the day after surgery suffered 2 blood clots causing a pulmonary embolism and a major stroke, stopping her heart. She spent 6 days in ICU, the first 24 hours of that of life support, then was moved to the stroke ward. ICU staff and care level was nothing short of brilliant. Seriously amazing care, so much so that Dad is arranging a fairly substantial donation to the unit. All well and good so far.

Once in the ward where she stayed fro another week and a half, the care level dropped dramatically. Despite spending as much of the day there as he could, Dad never ONCE saw a doctor. Sure, the patient did – but they felt all they needed to do was explain things to her – the women who just had a major stroke, has suffered major permanent brain damage, is doped up, confused, and has no short term memory. He asked for a meeting with them several times, even waited hours and hours for someone to show up, and nothing. Alarms on the machines she was still hooked up to were left ignored (the one pumping blood thinners to avoid further stroke being one), and they couldn’t even get food orders right – because of the stroke-induced paralysis, she had to have soft, moist food – mush basically. Instead, they send up dry, cold, chicken drumsticks.

After a week and a half of this, she was deemed medically stable enough to move to a bed that opened up in the Waitakere Stroke ward. Even though it’s a hospital run by the same DHB, the level of care was immediately a hundred times better. Within TWO hours of being there, she had been assigned a primary care nurse, met the physiotherapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist, and had an assessment by the head doctor. TWO HOURS. All these staff made a point to introduce themselves to the family, explain roughly what they would be doing, and in the case of the head doctor, told us a few things she picked up right away that North Shore missed. Like the reason she was having chest pains? They weren’t sitting her totally upright to eat, so she was getting heart burn. Severe enough heartburn to cut through the morphine and oxycontin she was on. How simple is that? Oh, and North Shore also failed to send though her complete notes also, just a summary sheet. Handy eh? A few other complications from minor to serious were picked up, but even Waitakere staff were dumbfounded, let alone us. Doctor also told us that just the day before, she was the only doctor covering both Waitakere and North Shore. Smart huh?

So, after that story, you’ll be glad to know the government is on top of the situation, right? They are going to get it ALL sorted out!

The Health Ministry’s new chief believes it is possible to cut doctor and nurse positions without compromising health services.

Kevin Woods, head of Scotland’s National Health Service, will take over as New Zealand’s Director-General of Health in early 2011, the State Services Commission announced today.

Dr Woods has headed the NHS in Scotland since 2005.

Earlier this year, he oversaw the axing of 1500 nurse positions in Scotland.

At the time, he was asked by a Government committee whether it was possible to still provide quality health services with “significantly fewer” doctors and nurses.

“Yes, we believe we can,” Dr Woods said.

“We see our pursuit of quality also linked to our policy to improve efficiency. We’ve invested considerable amounts in equipping the health service with the tools to do that and yes, we do believe we can continue to make progress.”

Yerp, that’s the way to improve health services, slash the number of health professionals. Useless parasites that they are!  (Hat tip to MojoBob for that line)