My next door neighbour came to the local Christmas dinner, put on by all of the lovely, caring people of Karikari Peninsula.

She looked a bit fragile, and said she felt a bit under the weather, but we put it down to old age and her being a bit dogmatic at times.

We invited her in for a cuppa after the function, and she said she had given up meat and was going vegetarian. No harm in that.

When she left we thought no more about it until I decided to pop over to see her last Saturday. I was shocked by her appearance, and asked her permission to call the emergency health-line, which I did. I then told the person at the other end my neighbour had not eaten a solid meal for over two weeks, and was only existing on sips of water and faith.

Advertisement

Every time she tried to eat anything solid it turned into sputum and she was forever expurgating this.

They advised me to take my neighbour directly to hospital, which I did. As we arrived there approximately 1530, we had to wait for a doctor to arrive at 1900.

I arrived back at the hospital just after the doctor had examined the patient. There was then a discussion regarding admittance, or not. I wanted admittance, because of starvation. The doctor said it was a borderline case, and discharged my neighbour with a small carton of electrolyte packets, to be made up in water.

For this service my neighbour was charged $30, plus $1, for the carton.

I reluctantly took my neighbour home, and kept an eye on her for the rest of the weekend.

On Monday, as there was no improvement, I rang my neighbour's doctor and demanded an immediate appointment, which was granted. I again explained to the doctor that the lady couldn't eat, and was only living on water and faith.

The doctor asked me, "What do you want to happen?" I was dumbfounded.

I said I wanted the lady admitted to hospital, for observation if nothing else.

Advertisement

Luckily, this happened this time, but she was charged a further $14 consultation fee.

So, to be admitted to Kaitaia Hospital, it cost this poor lady $44 plus $1 for electrolytes that were no use to her.

My query is twofold — what happened to free hospital treatment for all?

And why was a starving lady turned away on a Saturday when anyone could see she was she was exactly that, starving (i.e. 47kg fully dressed without shoes)?

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED