Doctor says health system designed to get more people through door

Youth specialty doctor Glenn Colquhoun says the health system is not designed to help patients.
DAVID UNWIN / FAIRFAX NZ.

Youth specialty doctor Glenn Colquhoun says the health system is not designed to help patients.

A prominent medical insider has heavily criticised the health system he works within, saying it doesn't put patients first.

Glenn Colquhoun, now a youth specialty doctor in Levin, says medical professionals are under pressure and patients are suffering as a result.

"I spent a lot of time shutting people down so I could clear the waiting room."

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Colquhoun gave a keynote speech to the APAC Health Forum in 2013, which has now been adapted into a book: Late Love; Sometimes doctors need saving as much as their patients, published by BWB Texts.

In it, he highlights the pressure put on the health system and the difficulty some people have to even see a doctor.

"There are not enough doctors to go round, so those who who are there are full and close to overwhelmed on any given day," a passage of the book reads.

"It can be easy as a GP to become locked into a death spiral... we need to see more patients to justify our wages, which means spending less time with them."

Colquhoun, who is also a poet, told Stuff not all appointments could be squeezed into 15-minute consultations.

"Sometimes you need two minutes, sometimes you need an hour and a half. You need to have a system that is flexible."

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Doctors needed to have the time to listen to patients, he said.

"Each consultation has a natural time limit. It sets itself.

"Being able to follow a consultation to that point where it finishes itself – it is extremely powerful.

"In the mainstream you don't have that. You are sort of looking at the clock and that transfers to the patient."

Colquhoun said it was a problem he had encountered his whole career.

He now works at Youth One Stop Shop in Levin, where he has more time to spend with patients.

He works with young people, aged 10-24.

"They are a group of people often left out of medicine. They don't get sick that often, but psychologically there is a lot going on."

A published author, Colquhoun said he tended not to read his own writing, but this book was the exception.

He would often look back at this piece to "remind me of why I do what I do".

 - Stuff

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