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Surgery Waiting Lists

Surgery Waiting Lists

The recent study showing that annoying the booking clerk sometimes results in getting public hospital surgery earlier discredits a popular fallacy on the West Coast where many people who have contacted me over the past eight years believe that if you upset the bureaucrats they will put you further down the waiting list.

This fear of the system, though quite unfounded, has resulted not only in West Coasters waiting an inordinate time for operations but in other cases has meant that patients and/or their families have been dissuaded from making complaints as they are perfectly entitled to do under the patients' Code of Rights. Compounding the problem are statements such as that from a West Coast DHB bureaucrat Ebel Kremer who recently complained in the local media that criticism of medical personnel harmed recruitment and undermined the health professionals. It is rare enough for Coasters to pursue legitimate complaints without this sort of propaganda from the corporate office.

In actual fact, the great majority of complaints on the Coast are about management and not the medical people. In one recent case I was approached by the family of a car accident victim who had been waiting in great pain for three months for an operation on his shoulder injury which a Grey Hospital surgeon had previously described as "urgent". The reason for the hold-up - or so the corporate office claimed - was that ACC wouldn't give their permission. Strangely, within two hours of my emailing the ACC operations control unit in Dunedin they gave their approval for the operation which was carried out soon after.

This raises the question as to why the West Coast bureaucrats couldn't get ACC to move when a local - and unofficial - advocate got immediate action. It also raises the much wider question as to how many other road accident victims have their operations delayed by such bureaucratic snarl-ups, both on the Coast and around the rest of the country. David Tranter.

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