Morons Run Our Health System

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Rant
Tags: , , , ,

by Morgan MacLaren

Dear Robyn,

Here’s a story to make anyone wonder what sort of bureaucratic monkeys are running our health system in New Zealand.

As you know my mother has to go to the hospital four times a week to do dialysis. Luckily she is training to operate her own machine at Greenlane Hospital (which, as you’ll remember from your numerous stays there with your vertigo, has wonderful staff and a good culture). So Greenlane Hospital is great. No gripes there.

However, earlier this week she had trouble with her fistula which prevents her from doing dialysis properly so the Greenlane guys got her an urgent appointment at Auckland Hospital to get an ultrasound scan done to find out what can be done. So far so good. She turned up at 0900 this morning for her appointment and ended up waiting several hours before being told the appointment would have to be postponed. That’s not particularly unusual though for Auckland Hospital. Unexpected emergencies happen often as you might expect in a hospital. That’s understandable.

But here’s were things get really stupid. Today is Tuesday and there isn’t another appointment available now until Thursday lunchtime. So they booked her the available appointment. Seems straight forward enough – except it’s not. Now that she is booked to have the scan on Thursday she CANNOT LEAVE THE HOSPITAL because that would cause her to become classed as an “out patient” and she will lose the appointment as soon as she walks out the door. If she becomes an out patient she will have to wait a whole month to be seen again! … even though there is a slot free on Thursday. Eh?

This is completely crazy but there’s not much she can do about it because she cannot wait a month have a scan – she has to do dialysis every other day so the Thursday appointment is ideal. So, even though she is not actually sick she will be taking up a hospital bed for the next two nights just to keep her place in a line. Never mind real sick people who might actually need the bed… one supposes they are expected to wait outside with the other out patients.

Fuck-me. How ridiculous can you get? My father started making some sort of excuse for this earlier stating that New Zealand is bankrupt and we don’t have enough money to fund our health system properly. Bugger that. This really has little to do with money and everything to do with bureaucratic idiocy. It does not cost money for human beings to get up in the morning and screw their brains in the right way so they can think. Any intelligent person can see the logical simplicity of the situation:

My mother has an appointment with Auckland Hospital at 1200 on Thursday.

It’s that simple. Period.

All that is required is for her to turn up at the hospital at that time.

There is no intelligent reason for her to take up a bed that someone else who is sick will need.

It’s clear that we have monkeys with brains in their bums making up the hospital rules in this country. I feel sorry for the staff who have to enact such dumbarse nonsense. (Apparently they were really nice people and very apologetic).

Maybe this sort of garbage is pervasive in government department type institutions. (Personally I have no objection to National trying to make them more efficient so long as any changes are intelligent and fair).

I’ve had first hand experience of the Governmental “Ministries of Stupidity”. Years ago when I first started working I was a “civil servant” for the Inland Revenue Department. It would have to be one of the most innane and inefficient places I have ever worked (as well as not being much removed from George Orwell’s 1984). We had some really brain dead rules. One was that you could not start work early. You had to work from 0900 to 1700 (and take lunch from 1200 to 1300) – LITERALLY. Trying to start work a few minutes early or come back from lunch at 1250 was NOT ALLOWED UNDER RULE #358, SUB SECTION #8925 OF RULE BOOK #452. There was a radio in the corner of the room tuned to one of those “proper” BBC emulated stations that goes “Beep Beep Beep Beep” on the official, scientifically calculated hour. You could start work AFTER the radio went “Beep Beep Beep” and not a second before. Stupidly, we also had a glide time system of some sort were you could vary your hours but it was so mathematically complicated that no one ever bothered to use it. And it involved filling in a million forms about two months in advance to get approval from 5 very important people with official glide time approval duties in order to gain even a few minutes deviation from Beep-Beep-Time.

Another idiocy was that if one of your colleagues got a promotion and you were pissed off about it because you wanted the job yourself (never mind that your colleague was better than you and the most appropriate person for the job) there was a special pink “I’M PISSED OFF BECAUSE I THINK I SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN THAT JOB AND NOT MY COLLEAGUE IR666/3” form that you could fill out and submit to the monkeys upstairs. Once the monkeys got the form they would action it like automations and you could pretty much have the job straight away since you had formally complained on “an official looking special piece of pink paper with an IRD logo and identifying IR code number on it”! (That means you have to action it without thinking intelligently because it looks suitably like it comes from some authority you see…).

From my mother’s experience today it looks to me like not much has changed with this type of government department run institution since I worked in one. The most ironic thing about my Mum taking up a hospital bed for two pointless nights is that during the week a friend of mine had to go to Accident and Emergency because he has gall stones. And guess what? After waiting several hours he had to check himself out and go home again because

wait for it…..

they couldn’t find a free bed for him!!!

Morgan 🙂

  1. Carol Spring says:

    Can’t you send this to John Key’s office.

    He talked yesterday about trimming the bureaucracy system in his speech “National yesterday pledged better public services at lower cost and gains in health and social services and moves to tackle welfare dependency”. Your case is probably one of thousand of cases that illustrate better efficiencies are badly needed in the system …
    your mother could have gone home, and your friend would have had a bed whilst his gallstone problem was attended to…
    Don’t think it’s a waste of time. Many a long (& possibly slow) journey has begun with one step but getting media attention to this is a start. Whilst you’re emailing John Key, I would also email TV One’s Close Up Team too ….

  2. Don’t. Just don’t get me started on our hospital system. There are so many things that are wrong with it, that I don’t know where to begin. But I’ll add two here.

    1). North Shore hospital has an outbreak of a hospital bug that ‘travels around the hospital’, and they don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s so bad that those with it, are separated away from those that don’t. You are tested as you come in. The ones that have it are put on one side of a ward, and those that don’t, on the other. The ones with, feel like lepers. However, they don’t test the hospital staff. Nurses or doctors aren’t tested for it, yet they are the most likely to be ones that are spreading it, as they are the ones that ‘travel throughout the hospital’. I am a recipient of this bug, and I have been told it’s most likely I got it from a nurse that didn’t wash her hands after dealing with another patient who had it. Sigh!

    2). The hospitals are run by district health boards. You MUST go to the hospital nearest to your place of abode. Too bad if your specialist happens to be in the area of another DHB, because if he is, then the likelihood of getting seen by him is zero. Even if it’s a really specialist area.

    3). The biggest faux pas that I think has been done is closing Greenlane as a hospital, combining it with Auckland, making reduced beds in every ward, even though the population is due to double, and making greenlane as an oupatient clinic instead. That means that specialists, once saw patients at Auckland Hospital, now have to see them at Greenlane, which takes them off site if there was an emergency….. Nuts!

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