A few days ago Tony Ryall announced that he was going to institute the maximum time should be six hours and that no patient should be left waiting in an emergency department corridor.
Holy crap. You'd think that someone in the hospital sector would have thought of putting targets in place before. Well it seems some DHBs already did. But it seems the biggest productivity drives haven't come from management telling medical staff to treat them or turf them but from medical staff themselves.
But the system will only stretch so far and this weekend I was reminded why. It was pretty shitty weekend. First I had to pay for they clutch in my car to be replaced which was an expensive proposition and then was struck down by some god awful virus. The reason I went to the doctor immediately was not because I worried about myself but I had been looking after the Child on Sunday and if I did have something serious which I might have passed on to her I wanted to the Mother to have a heads up.
Now here's the rub, my PHO (otherwise known as a GP practice) is open from 8 to 5.15 weekdays and 2 hours on Saturday. After that I have a choice between an after hours clinic where they payments are high ($75 in my case) or I can head along to the emergency department where you can be seen for free even though the wait might be long. Obviously for me it was a no-brainer, you swallow the cost of the clinic visit even though your savings have just been depleted by a 4-figure car repair bill. But I'm lucky, I have no dependents and money in the bank. Some people don't have that luxury. I hazard a guess that along with a lack of resources, too many people are ending up at the ED department because of the restrictive hours most PHOs operate and the high costs of going to those after hours clinics.
I hadn't been this sick since my infamous bout of food poisoning in Cambodia where I spent the last 36 hours of my trip lying on the toilet floor in between bouts of puking my guts out. In this case suppose I could have waited until the mid-morning to get an appointment at my PHO, but that's the thing with sickness, it doesn't alway fit nicely into a 9-5 work day. And when there's kids involved, you do tend to want health problems addressed urgently when things are looking nasty.
So wave your wand oh health wizard. But perhaps to make spell more effective, you need to talk to the medicial staff in the ED to find out how and why the system has blockages. It's what us muggles call consultation.
Update: Since the last post I just spent 2 hours at the GPs office being pumped with fluids and antibiotics since the first doc missed that I had a kidney infection.