National | District Health Board

Hospital staff refuse treatment; tāne Māori dies, for using f word - report

A man died after being refused treatment at Hawke's Bay hospital’s emergency department because he swore, a new report claims.

Hau Te Kura, a report into maternity services in the rohe, has uncovered a 'myriad of discriminatory practices', particularly as they relate to Māori, many far beyond the maternity unit.

The hospital says it has no record of the man who died but a staff member recounted the incident to the report’s authors, saying a tāne Māori turned up to the emergency room complaining of respiratory troubles.

"We had nurses that called me ... and what they had is a guy that came in, he said, "I can't f***king breathe. I can't f***king breathe." the employee recalled.

''And they said, 'Hey, watch your language'.

"And he said, "Get me some f**king oxygen."

Staff apparently warned the man to 'respect our space’ and gesticulated to a sign that said they would not serve anyone that swore.

"In the end the nurse came out and said, 'We're not going to serve you, you need to go'.

''They got the security guards, they told him to go.

''He did come back, six hours later, dead. He had a respiratory attack,” the employee said.

The report claims the health worker organised a hui to discuss the incident, although the outcome is not within the report; the worker says the problem is institutional, with Māori staff not intervening to insure the man got care.

“You know what? Our Māori nurses sat here and watched it, and as much as we tried to intervene, they were told, 'You are only junior, get back to your ward, they need you.'

"Our people sat there and watched that.”

In a statement to Hawke's Bay today, Chief nursing officer Karyn Bousfield-Black said while they had no record of the event "as described", they would look into it further"'if more information comes to light".

Other instances of prejudice cited by staff in the report included healthcare workers making judgements against Māori based on their appearance.

"It's the principle of save the life first – then talk later. But I think because it's a Māori who doesn't look too flash – they get judged straight away and the power is used to exert authority over them." One recalled.

Maternity service delivery across the rohe was varied according to the report. Māmā were likely to get poor service in Hastings, yet the Wairoa service was praised.

"The level of compliments for the Hastings service among Māori māmā was outweighed by stories of a poor experience, and many shared stories (mama and their midwives) of mama and whanau being subjected to a myriad of discriminatory practices that specifically target wāhine Māori."

Māori midwives spoken to as part of the review overwhelmingly supported an independent Māori birthing unit that could serve women living within Kahungunu’s territory.

The 42 recommendations in the review are being acted on, according to the district health board.

"We know that the care provided to expectant parents throughout the pregnancy journey can have a profound and lasting effect on māmā, pēpi and whānau,” midwifery director Catherine Overfield said.

Beverly Te Huia, part of the advisory panel and a midwife, says the report makes tough reading, but things can and must, be turned around.

"The recommendations from this review are specific and achievable.''

“What is most important is that the wahine and whānau who shared their stories feel that they are heard and that we will and must do better.” Te Huia added.

“This review will be difficult for some to read and for others, it will come as no surprise.”

-Additional reporting, Hawke's Bay Today