Hospital wheelchairs or public art?

realitycheck 13 November 2010 29

I had the misfortune of having to go to Canberra Hospital Emergency on Wednesday with my Father and endure a 5 1/2 hour wait before seeing a doctor.

We sat patiently without complaining or questioning the staff as I have sympathy for the predicament they find themselves in. During the wait I was amazed at the amount of people who present themselves with minor ailments which surely must be the better suiter to the local GP than the emergency room.

An elderly gentleman was brought in by ambulance officers in a wheelchair as he could not walk. After a while a nurse asked him to sit on the chair so they could use the wheelchair for another patient as they don’t have enough. His wife of course objected and the nurse was forced to go elsewhere in search of another wheelchair.

I became very frustrated that the people doing the constant complaining kept being put to the top of the list and were being called before us. At the 5 hour mark I changed tack and politely went to the desk and enquired about the wait and we were called shortly after.

Now, I have no problem with the staff as I know they are doing the best they can and are under constant pressure from the public and a system being clogged up with people who cannot afford the GP fees and go to the Hospital to get a certificate for free. But I have a big problem with a hospital not having enough basic equipment such as wheelchairs and adequate staff. How can the Government spend $27 million on the Arboretum or $750,000 on that metal monstrosity they call art on the Barton Highway when Hospitals do not have the staff or equipment to service the Canberra Community.

I don’t have a particular objection to public art and I like trees as much as the next person but surely the health services for the Canberra people come first. The Government cannot justify spending money on Stanhopian Monuments when the people they are meant to serve are forced to suffer inadequate services. The system in place at the moment does not work and is only going to get worse.

How many wheelchairs can $750,000 buy?


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29 Responses to Hospital wheelchairs or public art?
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vandam vandam 11:21 am 14 Nov 10

sepi said :

One problem is people only go to emergency when they feel they are in a serious situation, so then being told to wait 6 hours seems ridiculous.

Incorrect!!!! Most people go there to get a free assessment rather than paying for it.

In the ideal world, a hospital should only be used for people brought in by ambulance. If it is that serious you would expect an ambulance to be called!!! If not there are plenty of medical centres around canberra to deal with broken bones and sniffles etc etc. And even if you do go to a medical centre and the doctor feels it is serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, they will call a ambulance for you.

So the only concluesion is: there are a bunch of tight ass Canberrans who don’t want to pay for medical treatement (would rather whinge about a 5 hour wait) and think the world revolves around their petty illnesses which in most cases will heal themselves.

sepi sepi 10:09 am 14 Nov 10

You can’t tell if people are sick by just glancing at them. The hyperactive kid may have been on asthma medication – that will send some kids crazy like that. Old people with a sniffle may also have a serious heart problem. I dont’ think anyone goes to casualty with a sniffle – why would you – noo0ne in their right mind wants to wait 5 hours for treatment. You can see the chemist for a sniffle.

One problem is people only go to emergency when they feel they are in a serious situation, so then being told to wait 6 hours seems ridiculous.

Bosworth Bosworth 10:03 am 14 Nov 10

I went to Canberra Hospital Emergency on Wednesday too!

The staff were all very good. The wait time of 4 hours was undesirable, but expected.

I-filed I-filed 9:48 am 14 Nov 10

Rangi said :

Just so I understand your point. You are saying you think we should be happy with crappy medical services because they are better than some countries, but we should be worried about humanitarian aid…..unless we instead can spend the money on art but only if you personally deem it good (being that what people class as good art varys person to person)

Hi Rangi, thanks for asking, I don’t think you understood my point. I didn’t say we should be spending our health money in Haiti (we do that already through charities and AusAID) or our public art money in Haiti. I said we should thank our lucky stars that we have a well-functioning medical system. Yeah, if you cut the top of your finger off you’ll bleed lots – and it’s better to bleed into a bowl than go through masses of bandages. Bleeding hard but not in a life-threatening way doesn’t put you ahead of trauma cases, sorry! Nothing wrong with the bleed-bowl solution. The staff can keep an eye on the blood flow that way. Yep, no doubt the “sick child” wasn’t at the top of the queue.
There probably are enough wheelchairs – it’s just that one was on another floor. It would be a bit rough to expect a nurse to leave Emergency and chase after a wheelchair when there’s one right there that can be vacated. “Enough wheelchairs” isn’t “so many wheelchairs that there is never a moment when an empty wheelchair isn’t nearby” (that would be wasteful).

godot64 godot64 5:20 am 14 Nov 10

I’ve been to ED at Canberra hospital twice. Both times I was in a lot of distress and was seen within about 10 minutes each time. On neither occasion would I have been able to wait very long, but the point is that I didn’t have to – the conditions that I presented with were clearly a priority (compound bone fracture and a spider bite that was creating breathing difficulties that was initially assessed as looking like a heart attack). I’d never dream of going to ED unless I was in huge amounts of pain or in fear of my life and I think that’s basically what ED is for.

You don’t say why your dad was there, but the fact that you waited for five and a half hours suggests that it was neither life threatening nor severely painful. Yes, its unpleasant to be ill, but triage is all about doing the best you can for patients in the time and resources you have.

Rangi Rangi 8:57 pm 13 Nov 10

I-filed you said “good public art is worth spending the money on” don’t you realise 800 people have died in Haiti due to a lack of water that’s fit to drink. A further 100,000 risk being infected. Oh hang on you do.

Just so I understand your point. You are saying you think we should be happy with crappy medical services because they are better than some countries, but we should be worried about humanitarian aid…..unless we instead can spend the money on art but only if you personally deem it good (being that what people class as good art varys person to person)

BTW I don’t think it is a scandal that people had to wait for ages or that an old bloke was asked to get out of his wheelchair, and I don’t think the OP did either, I read it more that they thought it wasn’t good enough and I agree in a wealthy country like this we should have enough wheelchairs and/or staff to go get them.

People who really need to be there should not have to wait for hours, like the guy I saw there bleeding so heavily they gave him a bowl to drip into (b4 you ask I was there looking after a bloke from work who had cut the top of his finger off) meanwhile there is a mother there with a ‘sick’young child who was screaming around the room climbing and jumping off chairs like a chimp on speed.

molongloid molongloid 4:09 pm 13 Nov 10

It’s triage, so in theory you will be seen quickly if your symptoms suggest something bad. It might be frustrating but you have to assume that the people who jump you are worse off… which is a good thing.

vandam vandam 3:38 pm 13 Nov 10

I opted to pay for my consulation rather than waiting at the Canberra Hospital and it cost me $70 for what was a 2 minute consultation with a suggestion I gargle salt water for a nasty flu/cough.

I can appreciate that people don’t have the money to pay for that, however the Hospital should only be seen as a place people go to treat serious/life threatening injuries or surgery.

There are many other practices where x-rays can be done for broken bones and assessments for minor things etc.

In regards to the wait times:

At first nurses might expect you to be seen in 10 minutes, however when people are brought in by ambulance or patients conditions already undercare deteriorate, that 10 minutes can stretch out significantly. Unfortuantly they don’t have one on one staff to let you know your treatment has been delayed.

Punter Punter 2:08 pm 13 Nov 10

dvaey said :

Punter said :

Realitycheck, you were right to have sympathy for the staff at the hospital. You’ll find triage staff are just as frustrated as you by minor ailments presenting to accident and emergency when they should be attending their GPs.

While I have all the sympathy for the staff, they need to understand the patients situation too. The biggest problem I have when attending ED, is being told theres a given wait-time, but that being nowhere near accurate. If theres going to be a 3hr wait, at least be up-front about it. Maybe that might stop the people turning up with a cough, being told theres a 15min wait and waiting half the day.

Sure, they might be times when they get a sudden influx of emergency patients, but its not like we’ve got brand new departments in Canberra, with no data on waiting times, or ability to estimate waiting times.

If you went to a restaurant and waited an hour after being told you’d be served in 10 minutes, youd feel the same. If youre told upfront theres an hour wait, chances are youll accept it (or go elsewhere) and not go ranting to the media about their service.

The thing about a triage system is you may be 2nd in line for treatment but if something more urgent comes in, you’ll be pushed back, and this includes those brought in by ambulance which you may not be aware of. The staff can only do so much for those waiting with the beds and resources available to them at the time. I appreciate the waiting is frustrating (I’ve spent time up there myself waiting with my kids) but expecting the staff to be able to predict what emergency cases come in during the time you’re waiting is asking a bit too much. The decision makers who are able to find a solution to this problem are at a higher level than those across the triage desk. Be kind to them, they are just as keen to get you the help you need as you are.

Brianna Brianna 2:05 pm 13 Nov 10

So many things can be cut to give the hospitals more funding. How about cutting the amount of golden hand shakes for the politicians retiring. The funding of the offices and staff for former prime ministers? Our health system is in very bad condition. The mental health situation is in an even worse condition. Time to cut the money from the politicians and direct it towards our health system.

I-filed I-filed 12:51 pm 13 Nov 10

A nurse asks someone to vacate a wheelchair because it’s needed, and that’s a scandal?

A five-hour wait for a non-emergency, and that’s a scandal?

Reality check, folks. 800 people have died in Haiti due to a lack of water that’s fit to drink. A further 100,000 risk being infected.

Thank your lucky stars that you’re in safe hands and the worst we have is that people with sniffles are turning up in Casualty instead of going to a GP, and they can be triaged to the back of the queue.

The issue of bad public art is separate: good public art is worth spending the money on.

gun street girl gun street girl 12:17 pm 13 Nov 10

Battlecat said :

Maybe doctors don’t want to come here because everyone says Canberra has no soul, due to a lack of public artwork? At least we’ve got a quarter of an AFL team now.

Probably more to do with the fact that ACT Health’s reputation as an employer is quite widely known, so the department is now reaping what it has sowed. 😉

dvaey dvaey 11:22 am 13 Nov 10

Punter said :

Realitycheck, you were right to have sympathy for the staff at the hospital. You’ll find triage staff are just as frustrated as you by minor ailments presenting to accident and emergency when they should be attending their GPs.

While I have all the sympathy for the staff, they need to understand the patients situation too. The biggest problem I have when attending ED, is being told theres a given wait-time, but that being nowhere near accurate. If theres going to be a 3hr wait, at least be up-front about it. Maybe that might stop the people turning up with a cough, being told theres a 15min wait and waiting half the day.

Sure, they might be times when they get a sudden influx of emergency patients, but its not like we’ve got brand new departments in Canberra, with no data on waiting times, or ability to estimate waiting times.

If you went to a restaurant and waited an hour after being told you’d be served in 10 minutes, youd feel the same. If youre told upfront theres an hour wait, chances are youll accept it (or go elsewhere) and not go ranting to the media about their service.

Battlecat Battlecat 9:54 am 13 Nov 10

Maybe doctors don’t want to come here because everyone says Canberra has no soul, due to a lack of public artwork? At least we’ve got a quarter of an AFL team now.

fgzk fgzk 8:58 am 13 Nov 10

Shock horror there is a waiting time at emergency and the orderly hasn’t brought back the wheel chairs from upstairs. Quick, whine lots. You pay for it. Pay some more and stop being so cheap.

Are our hospitals full of the same working cheapskates trying to get work certs for free?

Does Canberra really have a shortage of wheel chairs?

Shall we ask impactednurse? He has this to say about how to improve the wait.
http://www.impactednurse.com/?p=161

All the effort to keep impatient people happy may be better spent elsewhere. Maybe nurse surgeries.

Rawhide Kid Part3 Rawhide Kid Part3 8:53 am 13 Nov 10

Staff ??? We need more Staff?? I knew we forgot something………..

Punter Punter 8:35 am 13 Nov 10

Realitycheck, you were right to have sympathy for the staff at the hospital. You’ll find triage staff are just as frustrated as you by minor ailments presenting to accident and emergency when they should be attending their GPs. I guess they would rather wait at A&E rather thatn pay for a consultation. While I don’t know how it can be acheived, I think Canberra needs bulk billing doctors.

gun street girl gun street girl 8:28 am 13 Nov 10

Agree, apart from the claim the hospital is clogged by GP type patients (that’s a common misconception, given legs by Katy and her cronies – the truth is that the system is clogged by very ill patients and there aren’t enough beds for them… but that’s another post altogether). I hope you did, or will, file a complaint with ACT Health, describing what you experienced and how you think it should be improved. They sure as hell don’t listen to the workers at the coalface, but I hope they might listen to you and others in your position.

TM888 TM888 8:22 am 13 Nov 10

Maybe you should do a cut and paste of your rant and send it to the ACT Health ministeress. If you have written to the Minister, why didn’t you mention it?

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 8:04 am 13 Nov 10

Totally agree. If they’d used the steel in that monstrosity of “art” in the bridge instead, it wouldn’t have collapsed.
Also, what kind of logic makes the government build a multi-storey carpark in Woden and then a SINGLE story mental health building on a footprint nearly the same size right next door? Wasted opportunity to use the space available for more beds, more wards, more surgery rooms.
I guess they figured if there was more of all this, then they’d need to fill it with qualified medical staff too and there’s the real problem.

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