Monday, 5 April 2010

Madness Down Under

I thought it was only in Britain that collective madness had taken hold on a national scale... not a bit of it! Sadly, Australia, normally a haven of common sense, appears to have fallen under this new form of madness.

Kevin Park, an 87-year-old war veteran, was admitted recently to Lismore Base Hospital, New South Wales, with a lung complaint. Unfortunately the alarm system used by patients to summon nurses was faulty and despite his best efforts he couldn't summon help when he took a turn for the worse. Staff knew the alarm system wasn't working and had resorted to issuing patients with handbells instead.

Kevin eventually gave up after 45 minutes and used his mobile to phone 000 (Australia's answer to 999) and summon help. A bit of a drastic step but it worked. When the nurse arrived, she didn't apologise but instead confiscated Kevin's mobile phone before returning it a little while later minus the SIM card and battery. That's what I call a bedside manner.

"I didn't know what was going on. It hadn't happened to me before and I wasn't even sure whether it was blood or sweat," Kevin said from his hospital bed. "Desperate people do desperate things. In the end I rang the emergency telephone number to ask them to get me out of here and somewhere where I would get some attention."

"Taking my phone was, to me, the biggest offence," Mr Park said."To me it's thieving. You can't ring out on the phones they have here so that mobile phone was my only access to the outside world."

A North Coast Area Health Service spokeswoman said staff took Mr Park's phone to prevent other patients being disturbed in the middle of the night. "NCAHS has apologised for any distress that may have been caused to Mr Park and his family," she said.

Don't you just love the way health authorities around the world employ such weasels to deliver their pathetic excuses?


  1. Chris in Melbourne5 April 2010 at 09:07

    Hi XTM,
    This is an absolute disgrace, and has already created a wave of disgust here, despite being hidden away over the Easter break.
    Some of us have mentioned before, over previous older posts that the Federal Government under the current Government here is trying to reform the system, however its a major task to drag the States whose only solution is to demand more money to empty down their collective bureaucratic empire building black holes! Its getting to the stage where it will be on for young and old, with some State elections looming. In the meantime 'off with their heads' for the cretins in the system that mistreat our elderly everywhere.
    Chris, Melbourne

  2. Chris... bureaucrats and empire builders are just another form of parasite. They will never voluntarily reduce their hold on the system any more than a flea would volunteer to leave a cat alone or a tape worm offer to leave by the rear exit. Parasites don't go unless you take action. Governments around the world should be hacking back these bureaucratic equivalents of Japanese knotweed. We are having an argument over efficiency savings in the UK at the moment. I would guess that we could hack back by 20% and no one would notice except for the diversity counsellors and five-a-day coordinators who end up on the dole queue. Show me a politician who says he can't make savings and I'll show you a liar.

  3. Its a bit rich to label the whole country's hospitals as being part of the collective madness when it was one regional hospital (& possibly one silly, cranky nurse) making this decision. Yes, I work in a busy inner-city hospital, but my disabled & elderly mum has also spent more than her fair share in them over the years, most recently six weeks bed-bound during Feb/March 2010. She was admitted to an isolation room by herself with a buzzer that also didn't work, despite the tech's best efforts to repair it, but the staff didn't once threaten to take her mobile away - even so much as helping her plug it in for charging when necessary. Its not a country-wide policy, often the decision of the particular hospital/ward or even, as mentioned before, silly staff member being cruel.

  4. Re MicheyMoos comment...then dismiss the silly cruel staff member!!!! And take away their nursing PIN number so they can't get a job elsewhere!!! Its the only way and then perhaps others will take heed and do the job they are employed to do which is nurse patients.

  5. Chris in Melbourne5 April 2010 at 18:28

    MicheyMoo, its probably fair enough to say that its not country wide policy per se, but from a patients perspective you would have to be blind Freddy to not notice that there is a 'culture' problem evident. It seems that nurses on a general ward have convinced themselves how busy they are, Not for one minute am I suggesting that its easy, but patients before magazines and computer games please.
    I don't work in a busy inner city hospital, but I have been 'incarcerated' in two of them here in Melbourne and still attend both as an outpatient as they are where the specialists of my choice hang out.Couldn't be a more enormous difference between these two, the first brilliant and the second not so glossy. Slightly further out in the suburbs at what is supposed to be a major teaching hospital, and where you would have to have a highly tuned sense of humour, absolutely terrible. Quite a lot similar to the recent threads on this blog. With an elderly family member in 'residence' there recently most of the stuff like getting assistance seemed to take forever. I personally spent lots of time there ( to hell with visiting hours ), but as the family 'spaz' some of the stuff I couldn't manage to do from a wheelchair. The place operates like it is closed in the evenings and weekends. Getting assistance was next to impossible so I made myself popular by writing to the unit manager ( one early morning via the e mail )asking whether the call system was actually connected to anything or whether a Ouija board was required, adding that I had plenty of time to ponder these questions, whilst watching the lights changing from red to green, to amber and back to red at the pedestrian crossing outside.
    Also using my own mobile to connect with the ward via the main switchboard.
    Reading your papers and the NHS site, yes it seems our respective country's follow the same path, right down to the rose coloured specs and the waffle of WORLDS BEST PRACTICE.
    ( assumes lotus position, no mean feat in a wheelchair I can tell you, and exits rant ).

    Chris in Melbourne

  6. I am surprised I have not had my mobile taken off me recently when the offspring has been in A&E and I have used it to inform paediatrics that we were in the building and not being treated!
    Call buzzers on a lot of wards are ignored by staff. I have seen it. Several years ago I had surgery and was feeling very unwell following it. I used the call bell to alert staff and no one came. Hubby went off to find someone and by the time the ward sister arrived she thought i had arrested! I had passed out through blood loss from the operation site!

    On his last admission, offspring figured out that when his drip pump alarmed, all he had to do was press a set sequence of buttons to make it work again so he stopped waiting 15 minutes for a nurse and started sorting it himself!!!! Not to be recommended!

  7. Oh dear Oh dear... Its everywhere... the madness has taken over... Where did it come from I wonder..Are we exporting our NHS traights?.. Is it contageous?...can it be cured with a simple jab... or must we endure this stupidity for ever ?

  8. IN Perth, WA we have a lot of ex British nurses ... hmmmmmm maybe that explains a few things. Though generally here .. the nurses are great the doctors are all wankers who think they are God.

  9. The NHS can bury their mistakes, and often do.

  10. From past experiences in hospitals here in Brisbane, I've had to actually get out of bed and ask for my medication to be given to me by the nurses after I've had my finger on the buzzer for an extended period of time. Being epileptic, I must take my pills at the right time for a reason; not when everyone else gets theirs.

    This is exactly why I don't like staying in hospitals and letting nurses have control of my meds and what times they are administered. If I have them, and I know what time they are to be taken... well, it's good. But once you give your control over to somebody else, you're stuffed.

    That poor old guy having his phone taken off him was an absolute disgrace. If they had to come in and take his phone from him, why didn't they ask him why he was using it in the first place? Stupidity is why; but they are only following the orders. Nurses are overworked and underpaid.

    And speaking of pay... the nurses here in Brisbane haven't been paid in a month because of the computer system at the RBWH. What a dreadful stuff-up that has turned out to be!

  11. I had three months in Papworth Hospital where they had a "no mobiles" policy. They didn't make the usual specious claim that they "could upset the sensitive medical equipment" when I pointed out that:

    1. I'm an electronics engineer and know that the usual claim was nonsense,
    2. That if the equipment was so prone to interference, it was unsafe to connect to humans!
    3. The doctors and surgeons used mobiles whilst in the wards, anyway.

    In actual fact, the staff turned a "blind eye" to the use of mobiles as long as the ringers were turned right down (so as not to cause nuisance to adjacent patients) and as long as you didn't bellow on the phone (like some old folks tend to do).

    My being allowed to keep in touch with friends and family without having to spend the obscene amounts on the calling-card payphones provided by the hospital made a huge difference to me. I also frequently lent my phone to other patients who didn't have one (I get copious free minutes each month), as I was incensed at the prices charged by the payphones!

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