Better urgent healthcare services for children on the Kapiti Coast
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Each time one of my two boys, age 10 months and almost 3, gets sick at night, the only options I have are to call Healthline, phone an ambulance or drive into Wellington hospital. As a mother, it's scary when you can't get answers to straight forward medical issues in the middle of the night. If we had an urgent care facility out in Kapiti then any child could be seen any time without the need to travel an hour into Wellington.
Any parents on the Kapiti Coast will know that there are no children's healthcare services available on the Kapiti Coast after 10pm at night. It is a large geographical area and essentially for 10 hours per day from 10pm until 8am there is nowhere for any patients to be seen anywhere from Kenepuru to Otaki. This seems very poor given that the population of Kapiti is increasingly becoming young families.
It is extremely difficult when you have an unwell child at night because they can change very quickly but having them seen is not always an "emergency". Often it is important to get on top of conditions with antibiotics and the like as soon as possible but the condition is not life threatening. Sometimes even if Healthline can recommend a medicine or treatment to help you can't get it until the next day as we have no 24 hour pharmacy facilities either.
Also he high cost of travelling to Wellington is prohibitive to those with young families who are often on low incomes. To catch the train into Wellington for an adult is about $20 from Paraparaumu for an adult and this makes travelling in to the hospital very challenging if you are on a low income. If you have a car you would still have to pay for petrol plus parking charges. There are no trains between 11pm and 5am each day so if you had to get down to the hospital without a car the only way to do so would be by ambulance or arranging a ride.
A large portion of the young families out on the Kapiti Coast are on low incomes and even one trip to the hospital can severely impact their budget for the week, usually resulting in a smaller food budget for that week and causing strain on the family. If the child remains in hospital for more than one or two days, often the parent cannot afford to go in and visit them for financial reasons.
There are usually lengthy wait times at Wellington hospital Accident and Emergency Department. On one occasion I have taken my infant son to the Wellington Accident and Emergency Department in the middle of the night only to then have a 6 hour wait time to get him seen. The next time I was there we only had to wait 3 hours which was an improvement but still a very long time. This was mostly due to the busy nature of the department but could still have been reduced if we had the facilities out here to cope with it because there would only be the Kapiti patients and not the Wellington patients too.
I believe that Capital and Coast District Health Board should reassess the needs of the children in Kapiti urgently, and provide increased urgent care and assessment facilities for children on the Coast so that we can give our children the best healthcare possible and the best start in life.
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