Heart patient told to take bus home in his PJs

The treatment of a Palmerston North man, admitted to Wellington hospital after a heart attack and expected to travel home on public transport in his pyjamas after being discharged, beggars belief but is symptomatic of a chronically underfunded health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

The patient, Ian Sutherland, was transferred by ambulance to Wellington Hospital from Palmerston North Hospital’s coronary care unit in August. He had been admitted to hospital wearing only slippers, pyjamas and a dressing gown. He had no money and no other clothes with him.

“Advised he would need an angioplasty, Mr Sutherland was later discharged and told he could get a bus home. If he needed clothes he could try the op-shop.

“That is beyond ridiculous. Here we have an unwell man with ongoing chest pain who was unable to arrange family to pick him up, being sent out into the cold in his PJs. Where is the common sense?

“While Mr Sutherland was eventually transferred by air ambulance, he needed to be readmitted.

“It appears this was a classic case of staff carrying out orders to the letter because they were too scared to do otherwise.

“The bottom line is over $1.7 billion has been cut from the health budget in the last five years and cash-strapped DHBs are struggling to cope.

“Ministry of Health funding for ambulance services, both road and air, has been static despite increased demand, while Life Flight, which operates in the lower North Island dipped out on $73,500 of Government funding last year.

“Unfortunately the pressure to keep costs down means we are seeing more and more cases like Mr Sutherland’s. He deserves not only an apology but an explanation. And it needs to come from Jonathan Coleman.”