Dianne Kidd had to wait for 30 hours in a hospital emergency department for a ward bed - a delay considered unacceptable by Health Minister Pete Hodgson.
National's health spokesman Tony Ryall tackled Mr Hodgson in Parliament on the case in a campaign to embarrass the Government over emergency room delays.
Mrs Kidd was referred to North Shore Hospital on Wednesday, August 8, with an infected shin from a mountain bike accident in Woodhill Forest several days earlier. The injury had not healed, despite treatment at a medical centre.
She arrived at the emergency department around 10am. She was assessed, tested, connected to a drip and sent back by midday to the public waiting room.
Around 11pm she was "upgraded" to a trolley in a corridor, her place until 4pm the following day, when at last she was admitted to a ward and a bed. She had surgery on the Friday at 2pm and was discharged at 9.30am the next morning.
She praised the doctors and nurses, but was "stunned" by the overcrowding and understaffing she said kept her in hospital for three days for a relatively minor procedure.
"I was shocked that our health system was bordering on Third World," said the 50-year-old investments manager from Helensville.
After talking to other patients on trolleys and in the ward, she concluded her experience was typical.
Mr Hodgson, when told of the case, said: "I do not think the Waitemata District Health Board emergency department is providing an adequate service."
He said Prime Minister Helen Clark, who visited the department while Mrs Kidd was in the hospital, considered the unit was not up to scratch.
"The Waitemata board's emergency department response times are the worst of all 21 district health boards."
The solutions were an 8 per cent increase in the board's funding last month, which would allow more doctors and nurses to be hired, the opening of 21 extra beds next month and changes to "patient flow" management.
Mr Ryall asked why it had taken "eight long years" for the Government to admit to problems at North Shore Hospital.
Mr Hodgson reiterated that his Government had increased doctor numbers by 78 per cent at Waitemata in six years.
But the senior doctors' union, locked in a pay dispute with health boards, revealed yesterday that senior doctor shortages, which it blames on uncompetitive pay rates, led to restrictions at Waitemata's Waitakere Hospital emergency department last weekend.
Waitemata's general manager of adult health services, Rachel Haggerty, said that from 4pm during the weekend, the department, which was usually open from 8am to 10pm, provided a reduced service so some patients, after being assessed, were given a free voucher for a local clinic.By Martin Johnston Email Martin