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Medical wait times unacceptable.

By apstoo - 30 October 2013 47

Over the past few months I have been experiencing bouts of extreme fatigue and recently dizziness. I have had huge problems trying to get that diagnosed. On an APS2 wage I can’t afford to pay to see a doctor. I finally managed to get in to see a doctor at Winnunga who did a whole series of blood tests as part of the diagnosis. A couple of days later they called me and asked me to come in for some urgent tests. I explained that I didn’t have much sick leave left but they insisted. So I went in the next morning nice and early. I was there about 9:30. The waiting room was pretty quiet, with less tan 10 people in over the whole time I was there. By 11:20 I had still not been seen so I asked how much longer it would be. I was told that there were still 4 patients before me. How that was possible was beyond me as there were not even 4 people in the waiting room and all 4 had arrived after me, and several of them had already been seen by medical staff. They don’t have a booking or triage system there. It is first in first served.

As I really had to get to work, having wasted half of my day I could not wait any more so I had to leave. I wasn’t seen by a doctor and was not given a medical certificate so I was not paid for that morning, and had to fork out $45 in taxi fare.

Then today at work I was feeling light headed again. I presented to the Queanbeyan hospital at 10:40. I saw the triage nurse who did a blood test and told me my blood sugar was a little high meauring 14. At 1:08 pm I told the emergency receptionist that I had anxiety and was stressed and asked how much longer I’d have to wait. I was told there were at least 3 ahead of me so I asked if I could get a medical certificate so I could at least get paid for that day. I was told that I could not get one unless I’d been seen by a doctor.

This was delivered in a voice that totally lacked empathy or care. When I asked if I could make a complaint the staff member rolled her eyes at me and replied that I could, again in a voice that made it clear that she really did not care. I figured with that attitude there was no point in making a complaint as it would not be taken seriously so I made to leave. I said that obviously the complaint would not be taken seriously and would probably be thrown in the bin. The staff member then asked if she could make a complaint about me. I was stunned by her unprofessional behaviour. I had not been rude, not sworn and not raised my voice at her. I had raised a legitimate complaint and she was treating me like crap. I walked out and drove home.

I ended up driving over to Canberra hospital where the walk in clinic refused to see me due to my blood sugar levels. The emergency department there was far busier that Queanbeyan and refused to even give me a rough guess on the wait time so I left.

My frustration with the standard of medical care in this region grows and grows. Wait times of over 2 hours in emergency departments that can’t treat just 12 patients in that time is not acceptable. Being told that there are 4 patients ahead of you when there simply are not 4 patients in the waiting room of a walk in clinic and you have been there longer than all of them is a joke as well.

At the end of it I am still feeling sick, am down 2 days pay, fuel money and a taxi fare. I don’t imagine I will be able to go into work tomorrow, and I don’t imagine I’ll be getting much pay either which means I really can’t to pay for a doctor either as my bank account is already empty. While I do feel for the medical staff, these wait times are third world.

What’s Your opinion?

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47 Responses to
Medical wait times unacceptable.
A_Cog 2:39 pm 30 Oct 13

Henry82 said :

curmudgery said :

I read your post. You are your own worst enemy..

+1 You basically left the line twice, and started again from the back.

Read the OP’s other RA post:

That’ll explain alot about the OP’s ‘difficulty’.

And without meaning to be cruel to you apstoo, you obviously don’t have “Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Aspergers Syndrome”. If you’d actually been diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist (using DSM-IV), you’d know that Aspergers IS ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM. ASPERGERS AND AUTISM ARE THE SAME THING!

You sould like a hypochondriac.

poetix 1:16 pm 30 Oct 13

OP, it sounds like a very unpleasant situation to be in.

My doctor charges about $75, but you can claim straight away, and about $30 from Medicare goes straight back into your account. So out of pocket expenses are about $45. This system is becoming more common. You can pay by credit card and have the amount credited to your savings account. If you have a credit card, I think this would be an ideal use for it!

Of course, tests can be very expensive too, but I really think that it would be worth either making the sacrifice and seeing a private doctor, or waiting it out at Winnunga. Winnunga probably has quite a bit of expertise in this area.

You could consider taking some other leave (such as recreation leave) if you have used up your sick leave.

I hope you manage to sort it all out, and find a way to bring that blood sugar level down.

peitab 1:14 pm 30 Oct 13

If you’re an APS2, I don’t understand how you lost 2 days’ pay. I’m happy to be corrected, but I was under the impression that all Commonwealth public servants had access to some period of sick leave before they have to present a medical certificate. The fact you were seeking a certificate indicates you were trying to access your sick leave, but since you weren’t paid, it means your HR/payroll dept processed leave without pay for that period (which means either your sick leave application was rejected or you deliberately applied for LWOP).

Again, happy to be corrected, but most places I’ve ever heard of would allow you to access your annual leave if you were out of sick leave and were genuinely sick, or would allow you to use your flex time (even to the point of accruing a flex debt) for a genuine illness. In short, most places would want you to be paid if at all possible if you were sick. If you lost two days’ pay, there’s a lot more going on here than you’ve mentioned.

schmeah 1:05 pm 30 Oct 13

The usually doctor apologists appear to have given you a hard time already, so I’ll lay off. Having waited close to 2 hours for my appointment at the Ainslie medical practice(which I left work early to make in time) I would seriously steer clear of them. I now go to Florey, the Dr I see sometimes bulk bills, but there’s no real method to it so don’t count on it. They also have a walk in facility (which I’ve also used before) and most people get seen very quickly.

What I have learned is that for the most part, people working in the ‘off the street’ health industry- emergency rooms, super medical clincs – really don’t care squat for your personal (non medical related) circumstances. I sympathise and I don’t think you are to blame for having to wait so long, especially at your first appointment.

Inappropriate 12:50 pm 30 Oct 13

It sounds very likely that you have diabetes. You should probably do what it takes to see a doctor ASAP, before you have a stroke or your kidneys shut down, at which point money and wait times will be the least of your concerns.

carnardly 12:45 pm 30 Oct 13

i think its funny that you wanted a medical certificate out of 2 places without having seen a doctor at either.

and complaining after a 2 1/2 hour wait at emergency? who’s to know that the other 8 serious cases out the back weren’t life threatening – eg strokes, MIs or similar. just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean nothing serious is happening out back.

what was your complaint going to say about Qbn hospital? That you had to wait you turn, that you were not classed as a category 1 patient, that the nurse sounded tired and bored and lacked empathy? Do you think they’ve never heard “but I’m dyyyyyying” from each and every whinger that comes through the door? They know what is serious and treat patients accordingly.

You were not classed as an emergency at either hospital. accept that. You were probably a cat 4 patient which means “you have come here without needing to either because you don’t want to to go a doctor or don’t want to pay for one so you’ll have to wait your turn to be seen”. You had the choice to wait at your first medical centre and you chose not to. If you had waited for your turn, you may well’ve been granted your doctor’s certificate. If you had got that you wouldn’t have lost one day of your pay.

Your stuffed yourself up by your own actions.

JazzyJess 12:36 pm 30 Oct 13

Agree with other posters that you need to find a good GP and get a care management plan in place. I recommend Garema Place Surgery but if you’re after somewhere closer to the border I’ve heard good things about Brindabella Family Practice.

s396 12:23 pm 30 Oct 13

It’s people like you who cause the extended wait times. It’s not an emergency, of course they aren’t going to see you before the people who actually need to be there.

The cost to see a GP after medicare rebates is about $40. You would have been better off saving your taxi fares, time and lost wages by just sucking it up and seeing a local GP. Then all those poor people who had to deal with the likes of you would have been spared.

neanderthalsis 12:03 pm 30 Oct 13

Your blood sugar is more than just a little high when reading at 14. Even if that wasn’t a fasting read, it is still very high. Get to a doctor and get it seen to before your kidneys shut down and you spend the rest of years days on dialysis waiting for a transplant…

Henry82 11:57 am 30 Oct 13

curmudgery said :

I read your post. You are your own worst enemy..

+1 You basically left the line twice, and started again from the back.

IrishPete 11:49 am 30 Oct 13

It’s rough feeling sick, but were you too sick to go to or stay at work, but not sick enough to wait to see a doctor?

Parking is free at Winnunga, and there are good bus services, so getting a taxi there and back sounds like it was your own choice.

If you really must, go to an emergency department outside work hours and just sit and wait.

There is also the long-hours GP Superclinic walking distance from Queanbeyan hospital.

If you are indigenous, as going to Winnunga suggests, then you are in a high risk group for diabetes, and you should go back to a doctor pronto. Please.


curmudgery 11:33 am 30 Oct 13

I read your post. You are your own worst enemy.

As you know, a blood sugar level of 14 is more than ‘a little high’. It’s not the system’s fault – so stop pretending.

ScienceRules 10:46 am 30 Oct 13

Sorry but some of the responsibility for not being seen is your own.

You know you’re feeling unwell so you’ve done the right thing and gone to get testing done. After your first blood test you received an urgent request to attend a medical facility to discuss the results and you decided not to wait. That is unlikely to have been the best choice you could have made given the circumstances.

Emergency Departments either at TCH or Queanbeyan Hospital are for emergencies, which you aren’t (yet). You will always be triaged beneath other more pressing categories of patients. This is as it should be.

You clearly need a thorough health review and ongoing care. This won’t happen at an ED. You need to hunt around for a good GP and stick with them. Most will bulk bill if you are in financial difficulties and the Riot Act is a good start for recommendations on such a doctor.

Waiting for medical attention can be frustrating, but we all have to do it. Stick at it mate and get yourself well.

Good luck!

breda 10:29 am 30 Oct 13

Sounds like it would have been cheaper to just book an appointment with a non-bulk-billing doctor and pay the difference. Way cheaper.

Ask around, and find a GP who is reasonably good at keeping appointment times. I have never had to wait more than 30 mins for mine, and usually 10-15 minutes or less. Well worth an extra $20, as it would have been in your case.

Bulk-billing doctors and emergency departments are inundated with people who don’t have to pay anything – that is why the waiting times are unpredictable and often long. It’s basic economics.

eyeLikeCarrots 9:31 am 30 Oct 13

Find a bulk billing doctor ?

My old Dr used to bulk bill me for certain short appointments so they have a level of discretion.

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