Toni Street's shock after son's accident at hockey game

Toni Street's little boy Lachie, 3, had a nasty accident at his sister's hockey game and required...
Toni Street's little boy Lachie, 3, had a nasty accident at his sister's hockey game and required urgent medical care. Photo: Instagram @tonimstreet
Coast radio host and busy mum-of-three Toni Street found herself making an unexpected trip to an accident and medical centre yesterday when her little boy, Lachie, 3, suffered a head injury at his sister's hockey game.

As worried as Street was over her son requiring six stitches for a gash above his eye, she was also shocked to learn how truly exhausted and overworked the doctor who took care of Lachie was.

Doctor Peter Boot, Medical Director at NorthCare Accident and Medical on Auckland's North Shore, revealed to Street he was working a 12-hour shift and that Lachie was his 58th of 62 patients that day.

"It was the biggest day I've done in my whole life," said Boot, whose career has spanned more than 40 years. "It was extremely focused and stressful for everybody and I won't be able to do that for very long because I'm getting old."

Boot joined Street and co-host Sam Wallace on their podcast, Off The Coast, to further discuss the dire state of primary care in New Zealand and the impact it's having on our doctors.

"Primary care in New Zealand is falling over ... it's been chronically underfunded by the Government and we've tightened and tightened and tightened to keep it on the road. But it is now in the process of falling over right in front of us," he says, revealing just last week a doctor at his practice broke down crying and went home after being yelled at by a patient.

"Of course there will be mistakes. We are getting complaints ... the public are getting very angry as well. They get angry about being kept waiting, not being able to see their normal doctor, they'll have a big anger attack in the clinic and they'll shout at a doctor."

He says patients aren't getting the care he and his team would like to be able to give them.

"Unfortunately we're having to see them in such a short time," he says and estimates the day he saw Street and her son he was tending to a different patient "every eight minutes or so at one point."

Street asked Boot, if he were to find himself with a family member needing urgent medical attention, would he be at all confident they would get "the best possible care" given the stresses on medical centres in New Zealand at the moment.

"Of course not," he replied. "If they came to us, we'd try and do our best but if they were sent to the hospital, we know what's going on there. But it's not the doctors' faults, they're working as hard as they can."

Boot points to the fact that he is part of an ageing workforce where young doctors are not interested in becoming GPs because of the comparatively low wages. Instead they are going into specialities or being enticed overseas.

On top of that, Covid has stopped what was traditionally a reasonable number of GPs coming into the country to bolster numbers. The Covid years also saw "a lot of doctors get tired or burnt out or decide it was time to retire."

"So, suddenly, we're in a real low situation. There are very few doctors," says Boot.

He also deplored the Government's recent move to pay doctors exorbitant amounts to work in certain areas, taking them out of the pool for the likes of Boot and his practice.

Now in his early 60s, Boot says he could retire if he wanted to. But that he's "committed" to his work.

"My mother was a doctor, my sister's a doctor. I'm committed to what I do. I really enjoy what I do. I love fixing people.

He tells Street he enjoyed trying to make her little boy "better and not have a horrible scar for the rest of his life. I love it, it's my life."

• Listen to Dr Peter Boot's full interview on Toni, Jase and Sam's Off The Coast podcast.


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