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Putting Patients First — How to Achieve Great Health Care

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"Putting Patients First - How to Achieve Great Health Care"
University of Auckland
18 April 2007
All too often in health care, we focus on the negative, the things that went wrong. As Commissioner, I sometimes feel like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, picking up the pieces. In recent days, my reports on patients who were not put first at Wellington and Wanganui Hospitals have spotlighted problems. That goes with the territory of a regulator. But as well as protecting patients, at HDC we are also committed to promoting great health care - building the fence at the top of the cliff. Our organisational vision is "Champions of Consumers' Rights". We believe the Code of Consumers' Rights, with its focus on consumer-centred services delivered with care and compassion, is a very good place to start.
We are delighted to partner with the University of Auckland to bring you this programme. We have a wonderful line-up of speakers, and best of all some consumers will tell their stories of what would have made a difference to their care, and what great care looks like.
It's a privilege and a pleasure to launch the booklet The Art of Great Care. In it, 14 consumers tell their personal stories of what care looked like when it worked well.
Some of them are with us today. In reading their stories, I was struck by how often it was the small human things that made a difference. Let me read one story to you:
A letter of thanks to the team that really cared
I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to everyone who was involved in my care and recovery during my recent stay in hospital.
To the tall young male doctor who saw me first; thanks for diagnosing my gallbladder but especially thanks for the morning after the operation when you looked in my eyes and smiled and we shared a joke about the hospital's rubbery cheese.
Thanks to the surgeon who performed the successful operation but especially for the night of the operation when you took the time to sit on the end of my bed and explain what you were going to do.
Thanks to the many nurses who made sure I received my antibiotics when they were due but especially thanks to those who administer the drip slowly and flushed my line gently. Thanks to the nurses who gave me panadol when I needed it but especially thanks to those who rinsed a face cloth under cold water and put it on my very hot forehead and additionally thanks to the nurse with the cold hands who 'touched' my burning forehead.
Thanks to the doctor who came on day three to explain the delay in my surgery and the care taken in my diagnosis but especially thanks for that morning when you acknowledged my pain by touching your hand on my leg as you left.
Thanks to the nurses who were there when no one else was as I shed my tears.
Thank you for sharing your stories with us.
We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. In opening this conference on "Putting Patients First", I want to acknowledge Silvia Cartwright whose Report on the Cervical Cancer Inquiry in 1988 highlighted what had happened to so many women at National Women's Hospital - and led to the Code of Consumers' Rights and the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner.
Ron Paterson
Health and Disability Commissioner
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