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Publicly-funded surgery granted days after Doug Pike sold his house to pay for surgery

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 02 August 2016 - 03:35 PM

More common than some may realise

Publicly-funded surgery granted days after Doug Pike sold his house to pay for surgery

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http://www.stuff.co....pay-for-surgery

Doug and Makere Pike sold their beloved coastal home of the last two decades to pay for surgery.
STACY SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ

Doug and Makere Pike sold their beloved coastal home of the last two decades to pay for surgery.


After eight years waiting for publicly-funded surgery, Doug Pike put his beloved coastal bungalow on the market to pay for it himself.

A hand-painted 'for sale' sign went up outside the first home he and his wife bought together almost two decades ago.

10 days ago he shook hands with the buyer. Three days later, he received a letter from the district health board: his surgery was scheduled.
Doug Pike said his leg was so painful he considered putting a chainsaw through it.
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ.

Doug Pike said his leg was so painful he considered putting a chainsaw through it.

The 69-year-old won't go back on the sale. "[The buyer] came around, we spoke, shook hands and to me that's my word and I wouldn't feel comfortable saying to her I'm not selling the house now."

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Doug Pike sold his home to pay for private surgery just days before he was told he would finally be treated in the ...
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ.

Doug Pike sold his home to pay for private surgery just days before he was told he would finally be treated in the public system.

The pair, who were childhood sweethearts, may move into a campervan.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) sent 2143 rejection letters, out of 5505 people requiring surgery, in the last 12 months.

This was an average of 178 every month for a year.

It seems at odds with the Government's latest round of "National Patient Flow" information, released on Tuesday, which showed just 245 Cantabrians were declined between July and December last year.


Pike's left knee began deteriorating eight years ago. In 2010, the pain was exacerbated when he fell from a ladder.

He lodged an ACC claim, but this was declined because it was considered a degenerative condition.

He was continuously declined for publicly-funded surgery for eight years.

"It's continually throbbing and aching. I just don't take any painkillers anymore because I don't think you should be on them.

"I went to the doctor at one stage, when my leg was really painful and I said if they don't do anything about it I'll put my chainsaw through it, then they have to fix it."

After a life of hard physical work in the army, and 25 years as a railway worker, Pike can't understand why he was denied treatment.

Despite the pain, Pike has tried to continue doing the things he loves – fishing, eeling and helping out on a local farm.

He believes he has 10 to 15 more good years in him.

"I want to enjoy it and do what I want to do – not sit back and watch TV, that's not my style."

He does not know why he has finally been granted surgery, but is disappointed it's come at the cost of his most-loved asset.

But he is trying to remain positive.

"There's no use getting upset or angry about it because to me nothing is going to change."

Of 5505 referrals the CDHB received in the last 12 months, 2002 were declined surgery and referred back to their GP for care.

In the end, 3200 people were added to the waiting list for a First Specialist Assessment. Of that number, 1881 had received treatment.

But it isn't quite as simple as saying only one-third of patients referred for surgery get treatment, secondary care planning and funding team leader Ralph La Salle said.

Many patients cancelled surgery of their own accord, about 50 had their claims approved by ACC or another provider, and a number of patients went private or it was deemed it was no longer appropriate for surgery.

And the 2002 who were rejected would probably re-enter the system at a later date and be treated, La Salle said.

"A lot of people live with pain. And unfortunately that's the way it is.

"The most urgent and the people who have waited the longest are seen first."

"Orthopaedics is a priority area for us...we realise that with people getting older we need to do better."

GP and chair of Pegasus Health Les Toop
said while the Government's data may be technically correct, more patients were now not being referred because GPs knew they would miss out and it "would be a waste of time".

"Therefore, GPs regularly see patients who in the past would have received publicly funded treatment, who are not now eligible as thresholds have been raised. This is frustrating to patients and to GPs," Toop said.

He said demand for surgery in a growing and ageing population was outstripping an annual increase in surgeries.

The response was tightening criteria and thresholds further.

"In this way, as the system gets better at learning [and] adapting, it is entirely possible that referral rejection rates fall, more surgery is carried out (although the mix may change), yet overall unmet need rises."

*comments are closed

- Stuff
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