24 Jul 2008

Anonymous claims made about rest home neglect

4:25 pm on 24 July 2008

Some ambulance staff have aired fresh allegations about cases of neglect they say they have observed in rest homes.

Comments have been posted anonymously on a website since the closure of Belhaven rest home in Epsom, Auckland, after an elderly resident had her mouth taped shut.

The site has 37 contributors, the majority of them apparently paramedics. The anonymous bloggers do not to name their employers or clients.

One posting on NZparamedic.com tells of an elderly woman being left unconscious for six hours before an ambulance was called.

Another case concerns a patient who experienced chest pain for several days, who told ambulance staff they were the first to listen to her.

The Ministry of Health says it has not received any formal complaint about a rest home by an ambulance officer, so it cannot act.

St John Ambulance says it has a formal complaints procedure, but has no record of formal complaints about the standard of care in rest homes.

Health Care Providers New Zealand chief executive Martin Taylor says it is unfair for paramedics to blog anonymously instead of laying formal complaints.

The office of the Health and Disability Commissioner says about a tenth of the complaints it receives about organisations relate to rest homes. It says anonymous complaints are harder to investigate.