Neurosurgery decision due today
A DECISION on the future of neurosurgery in the South Island is expected to be announced today.
The potential loss of neurosurgical services from Dunedin Hospital has created a major public backlash in Southland and Otago, with more than 55,000 people signing a petition to save the service.
Health Ministry officials have confirmed that director-general of health Andrew Bridgman would release his decision at a press conference in Wellington today.
It follows a comprehensive report put together by an independent expert panel of three that has been investigating the best option for the specialised neurosurgery service in the South Island during the past three months.
The panel was called in to resolve the matter after South Island district health boards failed to reach a consensus on the best way of delivering the service.
Nelson-Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury, South Canterbury and Southern district health boards all agreed that a centralised service was necessary.
Most of the district health boards favoured having six neurosurgeons based in Christchurch to service the whole of the South Island, whereas the Southern DHB wanted at least two of the neurosurgeons based in Dunedin.
Losing Dunedin’s neurosurgery service would mean a long trip to Christchurch for critically ill Otago and Southland patients, regular patients, those requiring long-term stays, and their family and friends.
Loss of neurosurgery at Dunedin Hospital would also have an impact on the University of Otago School of Medicine and reduce the expertise available during other surgeries that required a neurosurgical input.