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Patient safety concerns 'too late for many'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"The long-standing humbug and hypocrisy surrounding the public health system's complaints system under the former Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson is again highlighted by his just-published book, 'The Good Doctor' " said the Democrats for Social Credit health spokesman David Tranter.

"As recently reported in the media Mr. Paterson - now a law professor at Auckland University - writes about incompetent doctors putting patients in danger with only a slight chance of being found out. Mr. Paterson's apparently newfound concerns contrast with the frustrating experience of many people known to me who took their concerns to the H&D Commission over many years.

"As an advocate for patients myself, especially on the West Coast, I approached Mr. Paterson's organisation several times when the response was, to say the least, disappointing including fobbing me off to the Commission's Christchurch office who appeared to have little interest in West Coast patients' concerns" Mr. Tranter said.

"The situation had deteriorated after regional advocacy representatives were eliminated in many areas including the two local Coast advocates who obviously had a far greater awareness of local patients' concerns - and a correspondingly greater interest in resolving them rather than sweeping them under the carpet as the H&D. Commission seemed to prefer. For Mr. Paterson now to be saying that he wants competence checks for doctors to include patient feedback contrasts with his organisation's apparent disinterest in the views of patients and their advocates when he was running the Commission.

"Having said this I would add that the blame for problems should not be laid entirely at the door of incompetent doctors because, as I experienced patients' concerns with their treatment, corporate management must also take much of the blame as highly experienced medical professionals known personally to me were in many cases treated with contempt when they tried to raise problems with management" Mr. Tranter said.

"Only a full and open ministerial enquiry into the issues raised in Mr. Paterson's book - including the role of corporate health management - will enable the required changes to be made.

"Sweeping these matters under the carpet as Mr. Paterson's H&D Commission frequently did will simply perpetuate the shortcomings he now identifies. As part of such an enquiry the Minister of Health should also seriously consider reinstating regional H&D advocates in the areas where they were discontinued".

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