Privacy complaints made over new West Coast hospital

8:43 pm on 30 September 2020

West Coasters have weighed in with their thoughts on privacy at Greymouth's Te Nikau Hospital, after the issue came up at last week's meeting of the district health board.

Te Nikau Hospital & Health Centre, Greymouth

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Board member Nigel Ogilvie, the director of the Westland Medical Centre, spoke of his experiences in the new building when he accompanied patients there recently.

Over the course of a day he had heard far too much personal information about patients from the conversation of nurses and other medial staff in shared spaces around the building, Ogilvie said.

And in the reception area he had waited for attention for 11 minutes while staff talked behind the desk.

Local democracy reporter Lois Williams reposted her story on Facebook, and sparked 182 comments - some from people describing similar experiences.

While many praised the new building and urged others to be grateful, a number complained of the lack of privacy, especially in the reception area.

Reception area in the new Te Nikau Greymouth Hospital.

The reception area in the new Te Nikau Greymouth Hospital which was officially opened on Friday. Photo: LDR

Here are some of their comments:

"The triage area is ridiculous. No patient confidentiality at all. You're literally beside the waiting area as you tell the nurse what you're there for."

"I witnessed the gossip by staff first hand, and what they were saying about patients was very unprofessional."

"Totally agree, triage reception attitude leaves a lot to be desired."

"You stand at their triage desk in front of all the waiting people and tell your symptoms for all to hear. No confidentiality at all ... yes there's a sign saying you can request a private room, but seriously... it should be a given, not have to be requested."


"I've got to say that I have been to the new Grey Hospital twice over the past two weeks ... and on both occasions I was impressed by the overall experience, the staff, and the layout."

"Sounds very unprofessional to talk about patients in a public area, staff should be in an office with door closed surely! Come on guys sort it out."

"Here's what I found wrong - the signs I couldn't understand they need English as well, the waiting area for surgery is a hall way, no support person allowed past the door to the ward there is actually no room to have a support person."

"Lol I said that the first time I went in, no clear direction and the GP reception should be where the GPs are, but it's a nurses station? Really poor organisation and layout. Oh well it will get sorted eventually I'm sure."

"It actually is awkward as hell, the closest seats behind you are literally 2 metres while you explain what your there for lol it actually does feel like a joke!"

"West coasters are not happy unless they are whinging about something."

"Next day I was back for an x-ray then to see emergency again along with a few other patients from the same time... One of whom was fully able to tell a newcomer all of my symptoms because I had been there the night before.

"So the problem is also the general public feeling like they have the right to gossip about other people's medical problems, as well as no privacy when being triaged."

The general manager of the West Coast District Health Board, Phil Wheble, conceded at last week's board meeting that the reception and triage system "needed work".

DHB chair Rick Barker suggested a concierge system, in which people would be greeted by someone in front of the desk and directed to the right area.

But Wheble said that job is already being done by nine volunteers from St John's Friends of the Hospital group.

Rick Barker told the Greymouth Star that DHB management had been given the message about privacy at Te Nikau "loud and clear" at the board meeting and he is confident staff will be taking it on board.

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