Cost cutting key component of afterhours proposal

BY JIM CHIPP
Last updated 10:50 18/09/2012

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The details of a plan to provide urgent after-hours medical care to Porirua patients from ambulances have been released.

At its August 8 meeting Capital & Coast District Health Board authorised a working party led by Larry Jordan to develop the idea of the mobile service to replace Kenepuru Hospital's accident and medical service from 10pm until 8am.

Last week the board released the concept paper to Kapi-Mana News under the Official Information Act.

According to the paper, an average of 11 patients are treated each night at Kenepuru, but the service's financial viability is an issue.

The proposed free ambulance service, modelled on a pilot scheme in Kapiti and Horowhenua, would offer a more consistent service and also had the potential to manage the board's deficit at Kenepuru.

Dr Jordan and the working group have been given until the board's meeting in October to develop the concept in consultation with the Porirua community and the Kenepuru staff.

Kenepuru Hospital emergency medicine specialist Rob Kieboom said he respected paramedics but did not believe they had adequate medical training to provide the service.

They would also be handicapped because they would be working in dimly-lit homes with patients lying in their own bed, he said.

"People freaking out all over the place. It's not a controlled environment for assessing a patient."

Dr Kieboom said he had recently treated five patients with acute respiratory conditions in one 75-minute period, one a five-year- old.

"There is no way one paramedic is going to treat five people in 75 minutes. They are going to be ending up there five hours later."

Dr Kieboom asked:

"Where are our priorities? We are going to cut this service to this low socio-economic area with poor health outcomes.

"It's picking on people who can't fight back."

Porirua is the only place the board could get away with such a proposal, he said.

"You are going to get a two-tier response where the well-off people who are able to drive to accident and emergency and some people won't be able to pay for petrol."

However, the concept paper said the ambulance service proposed for Porirua is a first step, and the next would be extending it to Wellington.

Dr Jordan said he respected Dr Kieboom but his comments were based on limited information and wrong assumptions.

"I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with what I regard as scare- mongering."

"What we need . . .is time to work it through and or people not to jump to premature conclusions."

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