DHB says sorry for disabled woman's five-month wait

By Lee Scanlon of the Westport News

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The West Coast District Health Board has apologised to a disabled woman who waited five months for it to submit her application for housing modifications.

Judy Aldridge, 71, has had to shower at Buller Hospital three times a week for a year while authorities processed the application.

"We are deeply sorry that Mrs Aldridge has not had the standard of care that we aspire to for our community,'' executive director of allied health, Stella Ward, said today.

The timeframe was unacceptable and the DHB had apologised to Mrs Aldridge and her family for the distress and inconvenience they suffered, Ms Ward said.

The DHB would also send her a written apology.

Ms Ward blamed "systematic issues'', including internal communication processes, and "stretched resourcing'' for the delay. She said the DHB had had insufficient staff available to process the application then sign it off.

"There were different agencies involved in organising her care and the communication between the agencies was poor.''

"We are conducting a full investigation as to why Mrs Aldridge had to wait so long for her application to be processed.''

Mrs Aldridge would receive the results of the investigation, and the DHB would use the findings to ensure its standard of care was consistently good for all patients, Ms Ward said.

"Timeliness is one of the fundamentals of quality for health services and the poor timeframes and limited communication in this case have had a significant impact on Mrs Aldridge's experience of care.''

Mrs Aldridge, a diabetic, lost a leg in March last year because of circulation problems.

The WCDHB classed her as a top priority for home bathroom modifications, but took nearly five months to submit an application to Enable New Zealand, which manages the relevant Ministry of Health funding.

Enable took another six months to sort out plans, choose a builder and gain building consent.

Mrs Aldridge said last month she was getting a "bit brassed off'' with riding her mobility scooter to Buller Hospital for a shower, or relying on a family member to drive her.

"I've been doing it since last August. I think they're waiting to see whether I drop dead,'' she said.

Enable admitted it had been too slow processing the application and apologised to the Aldridge family.

The $25,523 alteration to Mrs Aldridge's home began this week and is expected for be finished this weekend.

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