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Admission Proposal Threatens Patient Safety

29 November 2004

“Emergency Admission Proposal Threatens Patient Safety”

“The proposal to co-locate the private accident and medical clinic with the emergency department at Wanganui Hospital is so poorly thought out, so short-sighted, and so focused on questionable cost-cutting that it risks threatening standards of care and therefore patient safety,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. The NZ Nurses Organisation has already publicly criticised the proposal.

“The proposal is based on simplistic and inaccurate assumptions on critical issues such as who does triage, patient admission rates, and necessary staffing levels. If implemented Wanganui Hospital’s emergency service would be fragmented, and medical and nurse staffing would be cut, while patient admission numbers would not reduce. Unfortunately, and foolishly, those responsible for developing the proposal have ignored the clinical and professional expertise that was readily available to them.”

“One absurd and bizarre feature of the proposal is the intention to severely cut the number of nurses and doctors in the emergency department when, in fact, there are currently shortages in both areas.”

“Although the proposal has an underlying cost-cutting agenda it is fiscally irresponsible with its cumbersome move to user charges for patients coming to Wanganui Hospital for emergency treatment. The experience of the failed market experiment of the 1990s was that user charges invariably cost more than the income they bring in because of the costs of administration and chasing up bad debts.”

“Furthermore, in the unlikely event that the proposal was to succeed in reducing patient admissions in the emergency department, then this would most likely reduce government funding which is linked to the volume of admissions.”

“The proposal also conflicts with the district health board’s contractual obligations under the recently negotiated national collective agreement covering DHB-employed senior doctors, with particular reference to consultation and patient safety.”

“If the DHB seeks to implement this poor quality and high risk proposal, then it will incur the strong opposition of senior doctors. It needs to think again and reject the proposal as a bad job,” concluded Mr Powell.


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