Forced to walk home at 2.30am? Not really – she could have waited for a bus

The hacks at Stuff are suckers for a good sob story.

But they have stretched the truth when telling us in a headline: Woman forced to walk home at 2.30

Good grief. An image was immediately conjured of jack-booted fiends coercing the woman to walk home at dead of night.

Heavily armed, perhaps.

The first paragraph laid it on even thicker – not only was the hapless woman coerced into making this walk, but – it seemed – she had been ill.

A Christchurch woman says she was forced to walk home at 2.30am after being discharged from Christchurch Hospital.

But no.

Read on and you find she chose to walk home.

Here, according to Stuff, is what happened.

First of all, Rosalie Thomas, 59, suffered an angina attack and was taken to hospital about two weeks ago.

There was an element of reluctance in her being taken for treatment (even though, presumably, the ride was free).

“I didn’t want to go to hospital really, but the paramedics said I had to, so I went in quite late,” Thomas said.

“I was in a nightie and dressing gown and didn’t have any money or my phone on me.”

She was discharged about 2am

… and had “no way to get home”.

By her own account, a nurse told her to call a taxi and ask if she could pay them later,

…but I rang one company and they said `no’,” she said.

“Then after about half an hour they said they would give me $3.40 to catch a bus, but I would have to wait until the buses started in the morning.”

So there we have it.

She was given a bus fare, but would have to wait for the buses to start running.

She opted not to do this.

Thomas said she did not want to “sit in the waiting room for hours”.

“I was stressed out and I just wanted to get home to my own bed,” she said.

And so she walked to her Linwood home.

Nobody stopped to help her during her walk, she said.

“I’m just really concerned that this is a big safety issue,” she said. “Someone else might have been attacked or something.”

Not if they opted to sit in the waiting room, unappealing though that might be.

“I must have looked ridiculous walking down Moorhouse Ave at that time in my dressing gown.

“Anything could happen and maybe I was just lucky, or maybe I looked a bit mad so people avoided me.”

Fair to say, she probably did look mad.

So what has the hospital got to say?

Oh, dear.

For starters, we are given that crap about privacy, even though the patient implicitly abandoned any entitlement to privacy by going to the media.

Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) Christchurch Hospital quality manager Shona MacMillan said she could not comment on an individual patient for “privacy reasons”.

But MacMillan did go on to point out that Canterbury District Health Board encourages patients to let them know, preferably in writing or by calling customer services via the main hospital telephone number, if they are not happy with any aspect of the care provided to them.

She also said staff made “every attempt” to help with transport, including providing access to phones to call relatives and friends.

But maybe not in this case, eh?

If a patient is elderly or physically unable to get home and does not have any family member or friends available to pick them up, the CDHB will explore other options, which can include assistance with a taxi fare, MacMillan said.

By walking home, of course, the patient in this case demonstrated she was physically able to get there.

Oh, and there’s another option.

“If the patient is well enough to organise their own transport but have no family or friends able to collect them at a particular time, they are welcome to wait in the waiting area until they have someone available to collect them.

“If not, staff can help with contact details and timetables of public transport providers, including bus services.”

So let’s agree that it probably was not much fun, wandering home from hospital in night attire at that time of the morning.

But let’s forget about being forced to walk home.

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4 Responses to Forced to walk home at 2.30am? Not really – she could have waited for a bus

  1. “But MacMillan did go on to point out that Canterbury District Health Board encourages patients to let them know, preferably in writing or by calling customer services via the main hospital telephone number, if they are not happy with any aspect of the care provided to them.”

    That’s not really an answer though, is it?

    • Alf Grumble says:

      True, Bill, it doesn’t help a patient to get home. But Alf comes from the old school where we were instructed to take our complaints first to the people who have pissed us off or their customer services or their bosses. Only if we get no satisfaction there might we think about bleating to the news media.

  2. celia says:

    It is all well & good, being given the option of following proper procedure, & contacting CDHB, if unhappy…but, that option needs to be a true option, & not just a way of keeping it “in house” where it can comfortably be pushed under the table !

    I have had occasion to complain about treatment (or lack of) in the accident & emergency dept… following tjhe proper channels, only to be fobbed off, with a generic reply, using corporate non speak….”regular performance reviews” , “valued opinions” etc etc…

    The bottom line was “we do not care a jot, now bugger off!”

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