Why weren’t they ready?


Messages preparing us for a return of community transmission of Covid-19 have been ramping up for at least a couple of weeks.

If we were supposed to be ready, the government and health officials should have been too.

Queues of up to seven hours for testing show they weren’t.

A woman and her nine-month-old baby waited over seven hours at a coronavirus testing station on Auckland’s North Shore. . . 

But cars began queueing at the College Rd station in Northcote before it opened at 9am – Katie Wahlman had to inch forward in the queue while breastfeeding her infant.

”We were advised to get tested by Healthline but many people have turned around and left due to the wait,” Whalman told Stuff. 

GPs aren’t testing so it’s a bottleneck here and there could be cases that are slipping through the cracks as this was not prepared for the turnout today. This is terrible.”

Christiaan Van nie Kerk waited over seven hours to be tested and urged organisers to arrange for better traffic management or add another testing site in the north Auckland. . . 

Short waits are acceptable, long ones are not, especially for people who aren’t feeling well.

The number of people wanting tests a few months ago should have prompted the Ministry of Health to be prepared for big numbers when news of community transmission broke.

This isn’t the only problem – there’s already a shortage of masks:

Is this going to be a repeat of the flu vaccine debacle when the PM and MOH kept telling us there were plenty when health professionals said there weren’t, and the latter have been proved right?

The latest lack of preparedness doesn’t give confidence that everything that could be done is being done.

The government keeps telling us the health response is their first priority. If that’s the case why weren’t they prepared for people wanting testing once community transmission was uncovered, especially when they were warning us it was inevitable?

Why aren’t there enough masks?

First time round they might have got away with the excuse of no rule book. That won’t work this time. They have had months to not only write the rules but ensure they’ve got everything in place to follow them.

If they can’t manage to cope with people wanting tests, how can we have confidence they’re  coping with anything else?

Petition gives wrong impression


When I saw a Facebook post asking people to sing Labour’s petition to save the Poison Helpline I thought it was being axed.

That is no doubt the impression Labour wants to give, but it’s not the right one.

The Ministry of Health, which funds the service isn’t planning to axe it, it is proposing merging it with a range of other triage, advice, counselling and referral services.

This integrated service will provide consistent, high quality advice across the country sign posting callers to appropriate services and care.

The service will provide a multi-channel approach including telephone triage and phone advice; text; email; phone applications; social media and web-based services. The enhanced telehealth service is expected to:

  • reduce the pressure on after hours primary care (ie ambulance services, doctors and emergency departments making good use of local health and injury services across the country)
  • be integrated to improve effectiveness in the development, monitoring and advertising of these services.

Services are currently delivered by a mix of commercial, university, and non-government organisations that together handle around 2 million calls by the public per year. The included services are: Healthline, Quitline, Poisonline, Immunisation advice for the public, Alcohol and drug helpline, Depression helplines and Gambling Helpline. . . .

Having one number to call would make it easier for people to the right help sooner, rather than ringing one, finding it’s not the right one and having to call another.

For example people might call  Healthline now instead of the Poisonline and even a very few minutes delay in getting the right advice could have very serious consequences.

A single number might make it easier for people who feel embarrassed about calling a drug or alcohol helpline too.

If the triaging under the new system works well, people will get the right help and get it sooner.

Instead of no service which the petition suggests, the merger should provide better service.

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