Kiwi Polemicist

August 26, 2008

Slices of life from Auckland Hospital

The NZ Herald has an interesting article on the Auckland Hospital Emergency Department; let’s have a look at some points from there.

♦ bed block, which I covered in this post.

A busy day means patients who need admitting to hospital for further treatment are often left waiting in ED for a bed in a ward, sometimes for more than 24 hours.

The backlog means when the emergency department is full, newly arrived patients can be left stranded in the ambulance bay or waiting room while the doctors try to make space and keep beds free for the most urgent of cases.

The article mentions a patient sitting in the ambulance bay for 23 minutes, which means that bed block is also tying up two ambulance staff and an ambulance. This is in winter with the patient lying on a stretcher so narrow that it looks like a plank of wood.

At Middlemore Hospital there are signs in the emergency department numbering the corridor bed spaces; in other words, bed block is so common that it is normal to treat patients in the corridor. This just shows that governments can’t run hospitals.

♦ then there’s the attitude of the patients:

“They [the staff] get a lot of verbal abuse that we wouldn’t set the alarm off for but we have had recent incidents of someone trying to strangle one of our doctors with his ID badge [chain], one of our nurses had her thumb broken, hot drinks were thrown through the grille at the triage nurses, and one of the security guards was stabbed [in the hand] with a pen-knife.”

Parke [a doctor] hasn’t been assaulted in the past few years although he has been punched in the past and was once picked up and held by his throat.

Many of those who turn up look like those oft-neglected by society. “The most disadvantaged people – the homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics, people with mental health issues – everyone deserves a fair crack at the whip and a decent level of health care,” Parke says.

Here’s the non politically-correct translation: those who are intent upon ruining their own lives turn up at the hospital due to injuries caused by their self destructive behaviour, and then assault those people whom they expect to patch up their injuries.

Parke continues “A lot of people who work in emergency medicine feel passionately about that, that this is the backstop where people who are sick and ill come to for help, and that it should be free at the point of care.

“It should be accessible, be human in privacy and dignity, and also be of a very high standard.”

The staff mean well but have been deluded by left wing liberalism; providing that health care simply enables people to continue their self destructive lifestyles. It’s not “free” health care, rather the taxpayer is paying for it and therefore subsidising those lifestyles. The only thing that we get free is air, and that only because the government hasn’t figured out how to charge us for it.

If these so-called disadvantaged people had to pay for their own health care most would either give up their self destructive behaviours or die as a result of those behaviours. In other words, they would experience the consequences of their actions instead of having the taxpayer protect them from those consequences.

My personal observation is that the majority of abusive patients are the ones who have grown up in a welfare state and regard everything as their right: see this post for more on that.

♦ compare those abusive attitudes with that of someone who grew up before we had universal welfare:

A 70-year-old woman with a fractured wrist has been waiting patiently for Parke in the plaster room for more than an hour.

X-rays have shown the bones will need to be reset to give her maximum flexibility in the wrist joint.

After injecting a local anaesthetic into the limb, Parke watches as registrar George pulls the arm straight with a very small, but slightly sickening, crunch.

The woman feels some pain but refuses to complain to Parke, whom she thanks profusely for his efforts.

“I trust you,” she says, beaming at him as the nurse puts on a plaster cast. “You’re the doctor, I should support you because you help me.”

There’s two slices of life from Auckland Hospital: gratitude and ingratitude.



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