July 7, 2009
Warning – this will sound like an off-topic rant. It is, but it’s a cathartic one.
My mother had a fall last year during which she fractured her pelvis. This, and a historical neck-of-femur fracture sustained in a fall 15 years ago have led her surgeon to determine that a total hip replacement is needed. She’s rather frail, and losing mobility by the day, so I’ve undertaken to advocate on her behalf. Here’s a run down of the couple of hours I spent on the phone today. (for non New Zealanders here is a run down on the New Zealand Accident Compensation System)
Specialist – I spoke with the PA of her specialist who advised that the referral letter to ACC had not been written. This despite it being some 12 days since my mother saw the specialist and he dictated the letter. Two thoughts here;
- Voice to text works rather well these days
- If a typist cannot type a one page letter in 12 days perhaps they want to look at the skill level of their staff
Finally I was told that the referral would be finished in the next 24 hours and faxed to ACC
ACC – ACC would not divulge any information to me until I had authority to act on my Mother’s behalf (bleedin’ Privacy Act). This was duly obtained and I re-contacted them. A very process driven ACC call centre staffer read me the claims process description at least three times. After explaining to him twice that a lengthy claims process, coupled with my mother’s frailty, could likely result in a far more serious ACC claim and that expediting the process would be beneficial for all, he finally reverted to someone else. The someone else explained to him the claims process description which he then (helpfully, just in case my Alzheimers was kicking in) proceeded to relay to me yet again.
The one glimmer of information I got from him was that full medical notes would be required before ACC could even begin the approval process (which takes around four weeks once information is complete).
Specialist – I re-called the specialist to ask for all the case notes to be sent directly to ACC along with the application for treatment. The specialist’s offsider informed me that was impossible as the case notes resided at the public hospital while they were a private hospital. She also told me that the PA had requested the case notes from the public hospital who had entirely ignored her request.
Public hospital – I contacted the records department at the public hospital who told me that everyone had gone home for the day and that they’d try and contact me in the morning. Whether I’ll be able to facilitate them faxing the records to either the specialist or ACC is anyone’s guess.
So… our system is broken. Globally we can look at the US and the UK at either end of the spectrum – in one country you can be dying but without insurance you’ll not be treated, while in the other the public system provides for all. At least one knows where one stands! Here in New Zealand we have this bizarre combination which slows down treatment, bottlenecks communication and results in bad situations for the people we’re meant to be looking after: the patients.
So there’s my rant – let’s see what tomorrow brings…