Ex­tra heart surgery headache for ADHB

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

A fund­ing boost to in­crease the num­ber of pa­tients un­der­go­ing heart surgery hasn’t made life easy for Auck­land health bosses.

In Oc­to­ber for­mer health min­is­ter David Cun­liffe com­mit­ted $50 mil­lion over four years to in­crease the num­ber of op­er­a­tions na­tion­wide.

But find­ing enough spe­cial­ist car­diac nurses to carry out the ex­tra op­er­a­tions has been a tough ask for the

District Health Auck­land Board.

“Without nurses, you can’t op­er­ate on the pa­tients,” ADHB gen­eral man­ager of clin­i­cal ser­vices Kay Hy­man says.

“The Min­istry have sig­nalled they want to in­crease the num­bers of car­diac surgery.”

ADHB chief ex­ec­u­tive Garry Smith re­cently high­lighted car­diac surgery as a “red light” is­sue be­cause tar­gets are not be­ing met.

How­ever, Ms Hy­man says it’s pleas­ing car­diac wait­ing lists have re­duced from 362 in Fe­bru­ary 2006 to a more man­age­able 243 in Jan­uary this year.

“We aren’t say­ing we’re on top of the nurs­ing sit­u­a­tion, but we’re close to it.”

She says pri­vate hos­pi­tals are em­ployed to re­duce wait­ing lists, but they have lim­ited bed ca­pac­ity and can only deal with cer­tain types of op­er­a­tions.

And other health boards nor­mally aren’t able to help be­cause they are full to ca­pac­ity.

New Zealand Nurses Or­gan­i­sa­tion or­gan­iser Mark Len­nox, who is as­signed to look af­ter nurses at the board, says there’s never a sur­plus of spe­cial­ist staff in the sec­tor.

“It’s not just a lack of staff in the the­atre suite. You need them in the in­ten­sive care unit and right through the process.

“The gov­ern­ment put a lot of ex­tra money into car­diac surgery.

“The prob­lem is you’ve got the money to do this but it takes a long time to recre­ate the work­force.”

He says the board has re­sponded as well as can be ex­pected.

“You need to have an up­skilling pro­gramme and they’ve been quite good at do­ing that.

“We need longer term plan­ning rather than short term bud­get in­creases or de­creases.”

Mr Smith also high­lighted elec­tive surgery as a “red light” is­sue, with tar­gets not be­ing met.

ADHB gen­eral op­er­a­tions man­ager Ngaire Buchanan says wait­ing lists have dropped, with 10,078 op­er­a­tions be­ing per­formed be­tween July and De­cem­ber last year, com­pared with 9863 in 2007.

Pres­sure has been put on the tar­gets, with a num­ber of va­can­cies and lack of beds.

Surgery on Satur­days and out­sourc­ing to pri­vate hos­pi­tals have been used to try to deal with the prob­lem.

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