"Left in pain when things could have been sorted out sooner."

About: Kununurra Hospital Royal Perth Hospital

(as the patient),

Recently I have been experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. So I went up to the Kununurra Hospital, and they put me on the ECG, did some tests and confirmed I’m not having a heart attack. They give me something for the pain and send me home. This happened 4 times. Eventually when I headed back up and the same tests were done again, with the same results, the check-in nurse asked if I had been regular. I said, no, I’d been having a lot of trouble going to the toilet. So they gave me a CAT scan and I was diagnosed with Full Stomach. They wanted to send me to Broome or Perth, however Broome didn’t have enough staff to care for me and Perth didn’t have enough beds, so I have to stay in Kununurra on a drip. The Royal Flying Doctors came in to transfer me to Perth, but had to take someone in a more serious state. So after a day or so I was flown to Perth.

When I was admitted to Perth Hospital they put me on a drip as well, while they waited until they could do a Laparoscopy. The Laparoscopy couldn’t be done in Kununurra because they don’t have access to a backup service if things go wrong. The Laparoscopy didn’t show that there was anything wrong, it went down my throat into the stomach and other than a bit of scarring there was nothing out of the ordinary that could point to my problem. They then gave me an injection to get things working – which worked, and sent me back to Kununurra. However, because there were no flights available I was put into a hotel. They didn’t give me any medication for the pain or to stop me blocking up again. So I had to work out how to get myself moving. The problem was that Perth couldn’t do the laparoscopy for the bottom half, so they said Kununurra could do it. When I got back to Kununurra they said that they can’t do that procedure and have booked me into Broome. Only the earliest booking is three weeks away and I’m left in pain and trying hard to keep things moving.

What I want to know is why the whole thing couldn’t be sorted out whilst I was in Perth? All that was needed was a phone call to Kununurra Hospital, telling them what was needed for me and checking if it was possible. With just one phone call they could have found out that Kununurra couldn’t do it and Perth could have kept me in for a couple of extra days to find out what is going on and maybe fix it. But that didn’t happen and I was shunted home, left feeling that country people are treated like second class citizens. They’ll take people in from Perth, but the rest of us are sent back to the country to wait for treatment, that might take weeks to get. I was in the hospital, why didn’t they finish the job.

I would like this sort of thing to be sorted out, so people in the country aren’t treated like second class citizens.

Having said all of that, I do however want to say that I could not fault the care I received from all the nursing staff that treated me, both in Perth and Kununurra. The nurses are obviously overworked, with a lot going on, but they were absolutely brilliant. No matter how busy, the ones dealing with me were courteous and caring. Couldn’t fault them. Just brilliant and I want to thank them for the care they gave me.

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Responses

Response from Maureen Crowther, Patient Opinion Cordinator, Nursing, WA Country Health Service

picture of Maureen Crowther

Dear on the move

Thank you for sharing your story on Patient Opinion.

There are a few issues in your story that we would like to follow up.

Donna Hindmarsh, Operations Manager has requested you contact her with your details, enabling her to investigate your case further.

Her email is Donna.Hindmarsh@health.wa.gov.au or phone 91664242. and mobile 0408944305

Currently Donna is in Perth but will be returning Friday.

Please follow up with your doctor in the meantime if you are in pain and uncomfortable while you are waiting for your procedure in Broome.

I hope it all works out for you

Kind regards

Maureen

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Response from Donna Hindmarsh, Operations Manager, East Kimberley, WACHS - Kimberley We are preparing to make a change

Dear On The Move,

Thank you for meeting with me on Saturday afternoon to discuss the issues you raised in your story. I will be working closely with staff at Royal Perth Hospital to improve our service and systems for our country patients. I understand you are continuing to receive medical care from the doctor of your choice and that plans are in place for ongoing management. Thank you again for taking the time to bring this to our attention and hope that your health continues to improve.

Donna Hindmarsh

Operations Manager

East Kimberley Health Service

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Response from Aresh Anwar, Executive Director, Royal Perth Bentley Hospital Group We are preparing to make a change

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Dear On the move,

Thank you for taking the time to talk through your experience at Royal Perth Hospital. Firstly can I re-iterate my apology. I would also like to acknowledge that you were keen to highlight that the main driver for drawing your experience to our attention was to try and reduce the chance of anyone else experiencing similar.

1) The first problem appears to have been a failure to acknowledge that WA Country Health Services (WACHS) cover a vast area and whilst many services are available more locally for patients this can still represent significant travel – for you a distance of over 1000 kilometres from your home. Having travelled to Perth we have got the balance between supporting getting you back home and the opportunity to have local investigation and treatment vs timeliness and convenience wrong. We have already started discussions with WACHS to see how we can (because we need to) do this better. I haven’t got an answer today but will keep you updated and will also meet the clinical team that looked after you to ensure they are aware of the challenges that arose. I will update you when I phone again about your follow up.

2) I am also embarrassed that you left feeling that things would have been different if you lived in Metropolitan Perth. This included the way in which messages were conveyed to you. As an organisation, dignified communication and respect is a key value set for us. There can be no exception to this absolute rule and I will re-iterate this to both the team and staff in general.

Once again I would like to apologise for your experience and assure you that we will honour your aim of ensuring that you highlighting your concerns will translate into better care for others going forward.

Kind regards

Dr Aresh Anwar

Executive Director

Royal Perth Bentley Hospital Group

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Response from Aresh Anwar, Executive Director, Royal Perth Bentley Hospital Group

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Dear On the move,

I hope and trust that you are well. I thought I would drop a brief note just to provide assurance that we continue to work with the WA Country Health Services to try and improve the clinical pathways and treatments available locally for patients.

This I hope will translate into fruition in the very near future.

We met with the WA Country Health Services last week in a meeting that involved both managerial clinical teams in order to try and address the challenges and I was left with a huge sense of optimism that the challenges that you see so clearly articulated would hopefully be ones that will be confined to the past.

Kind regards

Dr Aresh Anwar

Executive Director

Royal Perth Bentley Group

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Update posted by On the move (the patient)

Twelve months and no result. My GP said Perth classed me as a cat. 1, which means urgent - seen within 30 days. This was in December 2017 and I can't see a gastrologist.

Face to face was unknown, but have a telehealth video conference in late April, 2018.

Still having problems to get things moving on tablets that are only supposed to be a 12 week course. GP advised me to take minimum number as possible as the side effects could mean further problems. So waiting again, and what are they going to do over a video conference.

Response from Donna Hindmarsh, Operations Manager, East Kimberley, WACHS - Kimberley

Dear On the move,

Thank you for providing an update of your health problems. I am sorry to hear you have not progressed as your GP had planned. I would like to understand a little better your current circumstances and request you contact me on 08 91952450 or on mobile 0439683878 or via email: Donna.Hindmarsh@health.wa.gov.au.

Please follow up with your GP or the Emergency Department if you are in pain or experience symptoms whilst you are waiting for your appointment.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Donna Hindmarsh

Operations Manager

East Kimberley Health Service

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