By: Gurbir Singh
Reports of a patient left to starve for ‘several’ days after a major surgery at Auckland City Hospital has traumatised not only the victim but several others in the community, including opposition National party.
According to reports, a shortage of feeding machines and an increased demand, had led to some patients without food for up to “48 hours”. However, in this specific case, the woman patient claims to have been starved up to five days as she was not fed in absence of feeding pump.
National’s Deputy Leader & Spokesperson for Health, Dr Shane Reti is “very disappointed” at the patient not being fed at the hospital.
“It is very disappointing to hear of a patient not being fed in hospital, although I understand that depending on the procedure one can often receive parenteral (drip fed) nutrition while the body prepares to receive food again, but this sounds like it is not the case,” he told NewsViews this morning when approached for comments.
Dr Reti laments at the worsening outcomes in spite of more investment in the health sector by the current government.
“The Labour government have admitted they have spent billions on health and achieved little. More money but worse outcomes,” says National deputy leader.
“What this fundamentally talks to is wasteful spending and failure to deliver. The Labour government is spending half a billion dollars on health restructuring that will remove the local voice and increase the bureaucrats in Wellington…”
Dr Reti , who has practiced medicine for 16 years, fears the worst for those awaiting health care.
“The failure to deliver is astonishing with 30,000 people overdue on waiting lists, emergency departments bulging and general practice at breaking point,” he says.
Dr Shane Reti was also critical of the Labour government’s handling of the health sector, including health workers and the impending strikes.
“National had no strikes in their 9 years and Labour now has rolling strikes. We value our health workers.”
According to Dr Reti, his party was committed to “reinstall health targets holding ourselves and the health system accountable.”
Dr Reti was not alone in expressing disappointment and fears of what had happened.
“I’m shocked”, says Janet (not her real name) who is scheduled to undergo a throat surgery in the next fortnight.
“I’m very worried for my aftercare at the hospital, given the conditions there – especially the shortage of basic equipment. I’m having second thoughts about Auckland hospital now,” she says.
“But what options do I have? I’ve no insurance cover to get it done privately,” she laments.
Several others to whom NewsViews spoke also expressed their anguish on the patient’s experience.
“It’s ridiculous that the country’s biggest hospital did not have adequate machines to feed those who were reliant on the feeding pump until their recovery,” says Chris.
“Do we even have enough face masks or ventilators? Imagine what would happen if we had an outbreak with government considering opening the borders later this year? Our health system is not geared to cope with any such eventuality and would collapse. I fear for the worst,” a visibly worried Chris adds.
Meanwhile, Auckland District Health Board while denying the patient’s claim of being hungry for five days, has apologised for the woman’s experience and confirmed having received 50 new machines last month. DHB also denied that any patient was put to risk in the absence of these machines.