Like many other New Zealanders tonight, I viewed the TVNZ News story of the family who lost their baby while under the care of Waikato Hospital with a mixture of sadness, horror and embarrassment.
Sadness, that ANY family had to go through that experience – my own family knows what it is like to lose a child in questionable circumstances, and wouldn’t wish that on any other family.
Horror, that the Board of Waikato DHB is being told one thing, while the facts coming out in the media are pointing to something else.
Embarrassment, that I am a member of a Board that is in the dark about this death, about the baby’s death reported last week, and about many other serious incidents, and is therefore not in a position to do anything to improve the situation for the future.
I am sad also that the hard work of Nurses, Doctors and other staff who care about their patients, is being let down by poor organisation, by underfunding, and unfortunately by a culture of denial within our DHB and, I suspect, all DHBs.
As a new Board member, I am upset by the sanitising of bad news to the point that we learn little and that no-one can ever be held accountable.
As an organisation, Waikato DHB will not improve until we genuinely admit our problems to ourselves, and confront the issues that need to be dealt with.
For example, we have a $32.5M deficit for this year, yet the Board Chair and the Minister of Health have stated in the media that there is no deficit. We will never get the funding our region needs to properly provide healthcare if our leaders deny there is a shortfall.
The Board has been told today (through a months-old internal review that Board members were not told about until just before the media story broke) that the DHB is not at fault for this latest horror case, yet according to TVNZ News, the ACC has investigated the case and found the care given the mother and child to be below standard.
Our Board is accountable for providing good quality healthcare to the Waikato region, and we are accountable for all that happens on our watch. We have to step up and take that role more seriously than has been the case.