"Services to the bush"

About: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

(as the patient),

This isn't about one particular incident but rather a series. However my most recent incident does help make the wider point. I had 5 hours of chemo and had to visit the pharmacy to pick up meds on my way out. I also had limited time to catch a flight to get back to work. At the pharmacy I was told there was an hour long wait for a pack of injectables that didn't need to be made up, just lifted from a shelf and processed. I replied I couldn't wait and explained that I had to catch the last flight out that day. Then I was told half an hour. I again said no and that I had to leave. I got a cab to the airport and was in the middle of checking in when I got a call (the second) from a private number - the pharmacy were concerned and had alerted the doctor that I was flying back without the meds. They wanted to make some arrangement to rectify the mistake. I let the flight go and taxied back to the hospital, public sector cuts in mind. I didn't in all conscience need to make a difficult job even more difficult. I had also remembered that I had in my haste forgotten to pick up a CD of scans which I was shortly to need. And I was aware that hopefully PATS would pay for the missed flight plus the one that I had to then book because the lowest cost flight did not allow transfer. All of this translates into a much wider perception garnered over 2 years of how little metropolitan people understand how things work in remote Australia, even less very remote Australia. They just don't get the distances. For example, my initial referral was to Kununurra and I would have to fly to Perth to get there in the first place. They don't get the state of the roads or whether there are any or the driving distances involved in getting to the nearest airport. They don't get weather conditions. They don't get the financial costs of flying down to Perth, being told your neutrophils are too low for treatment today, come back next week. They don't get that some people have to work - just because you are over a certain age and have cancer doesn't automatically translate into not working and having all the time in the world to fit in appointments. Metro staff need an induction to remote communities and what it's like to live in the bush, otherwise nothing is going to change. How do I feel, frustrated, financially challenged.

Responses

Response from Jennifer Francis, A/Director Safety, Quality & Performance, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, North Metropolitan Health Service We are preparing to make a change

Dear Tolkien

Thank you for taking the time to share your recent experience of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. I am sorry to read of your illness and the frustration you have experienced with our service during your treatment. I agree that many of us who live in the city do not appreciate the challenges that people like yourself, living in rural WA face every day, and that we take a good deal for granted.

‘Putting the patient first’ is central to everything we do at Charlie’s and I wish to reassure you that we accept and use feedback from our patients to improve our services to better meet your needs. We apologise for the impact the pharmacy wait time had on your travel arrangements and wish to explain that a number of critical ‘checking’ processes need to occur when medications are dispensed and that this can take some time – I am sorry this was not explained to you. I have discussed you story with the Head of Department - Pharmacy and she has provided the following information: it has been previously recognised that the “journey” for patient’s like yourself who are attending chemotherapy treatment could have their prescription written and processed at the time of treatment to avoid the need for waiting afterwards. The pharmacy department are currently undertaking a project similar to this in other outpatient services and with your feedback will propose expanding the scope of the current project.

Some of our rural areas are able to use technology such as Telehealth for some limited healthcare provision and we are hoping in the future that more care will be considered so that we can reduce the personal and financial impact to our country patients.

Thank you again for your feedback. I do hope that your continuing treatment and care at Charlies is a much more positive experience. If you would like to discuss any matter that you have raised please contact a member of our Patient Liaison Service on (08) 6457 2867.

Kind regards

Tony Dolan

A/Executive Director

Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group

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