Waiting lists

I was shocked to see how many people were waiting in our electorate hospitals (Wanganui and south Taranaki) while visiting last year.

Waiting lists are getting out of control, with a waiting list being created for the waiting list.

Nearly 350,000 elective (non-emergency) operations were carried out in New Zealand last year, but only about half of them were done on the health service. The other half were carried out privately, generally through health insurance. The main difference between these treatment alternatives was the waiting time and how long the patient had to sit around in pain and discomfort.


The Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ) and The New Zealand Private Surgical Hospitals Association (NZPSHA) commissioned a study four years ago to look at these numbers. Many would consider what they found to be worrying. At any one time there are around 110,000 people on the waiting list and a further 170,000 who have been put forward for treatment by their doctor and specialist but aren't deemed unwell enough by the DHB to go on to the waiting list. What would they look like now?

That's over 6 per cent of the New Zealand population that are in need of an operation at any one time, so it's no wonder there is a waiting list. It is the amount of time on the waiting list that is important, though. The average time for those waiting for surgery has increased 80 days to 304 days or, if you prefer, 10 months.

That means for every person accepted in a week there is someone waiting 20 months. Once on the surgery list, the average time for those getting treatment has increased 30 days to 144 days.

It is only fair to point out that the 144-day average includes private treatment — and as the private wait list averages 44 days, the public average is going to be much greater than the reported 144 days. Can we change this?


Wahine day

My Wahine day: I remember the early morning of April 10, 1968. The old two-storey boarding house in Upper Willis St, Wellington, where I lived had been creaking and rocking violently for hours.

The roar of the wind gave away the cause. No chance of finishing a decent sleep.
I got ready for work, wondering if the "workers" truck that delivered me to the Government Printing Office store in Evans Bay would make it through the torrential rain.


It did. Traffic was dense, as usual for central Wellington. I saw a passing car, its windscreen broken, driver and interior utterly sodden. Another car, its bonnet torn completely off, engine still running under that storm-driven "waterfall" of water.

The astonished truck driver said that, coming down steep Ngauranga Gorge, he had to change down gears and put his foot on the accelerator to make headway against the howling wind. Some 40 years were to pass before New Zealand recorded a wind speed higher than Wellington had that day.

At my workplace, the nation's stationery warehouse, we few workers who arrived waited outside, drenched, until a keyholder eventually came. We weren't much dryer inside. Forty ventilators had blown off the roof and the rain bucketed in. Dozens of windows smashed.

"Work" consisted of moving pallets of paper into "less" rainy areas of the flooded floor. And my portable radio proclaimed the unfolding Wahine tragedy. She was the largest stern-loading roll-on, roll-off ferry in the world, reportedly had lost her rudder, and had no hope of avoiding Barrett's Reef.

Wellington Railway Station became an emergency clearing house for Wahine victims, alive or, tragically, demised.

Every ambulance in Wellington had been mobilised for hours, picking up the injured blown off their feet. Some ambulances broke down in the storm. We were trucked into the city around noon, "work" proving hopeless.

Transportation home was a joke. Helpless, we gathered for a few beers in a pub and felt the almost palpable sadness that had enveloped the city.

Later, dozens of cars, flooded by seawater, salvaged from the Wahine, had their ownership papers compulsorily stamped "Wahine Disaster".


Future champ?

Well fought, Joseph Parker, but out of your class in the heavyweight title fight with Anthony Joshua.

What about Bob Fitzsimmons, the blacksmith from Timaru (he was actually born in Cornwall, England) who was world heavyweight champion but lost to New York cop Gene Tunney?

Don't forget Tom Heeney from Gisborne who wore the Maori cloak when he challenged the title holder in America but lost on points.

Then we have the NZ cop Don Mullet, who was New Zealand champion and beat the Golden Gloves from the Marine division in Wellington.

Handled correctly, Joseph Parker should eventually prove to be a world champion.


Send your letters to: The Editor, Wanganui Chronicle, 100 Guyton St, PO Box 433, Wanganui 4500; or email editor@wanganuichronicle.co.nz