Long­term change needed on surgery waits: ex­pert

Otago Daily Times - - General - EILEEN GOOD­WIN

A TWO­month in­ten­sive outsourcing pro­gramme will clear the big­gest wait­ing lists at South­ern Dis­trict Health Board but change is needed so they do not build up again, a se­nior vis­it­ing health ex­ec­u­tive says.

Ex­pe­ri­enced North Is­land ex­ec­u­tive Joy Far­ley will over­see the outsourcing in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

Par­tic­u­lar prob­lem ar­eas were urol­ogy, or­thopaedics and gen­eral surgery, and it would in­clude surgery ‘‘blitz lists’’.

‘‘Short­term mea­sures don’t work in the long term.

‘‘We can’t con­tinue to be un­sus­tain­able into the long term.

‘‘My com­ment to clin­i­cians is we can’t just do one­off change or one­off ini­tia­tives. We have to do some­thing dif­fer­ent.

‘‘What we don’t want to do is deal with the back­log and have that back­log oc­cur again,’’ Ms Far­ley said.

She was brought in five years ago to look at the south­ern surgery ser­vice.

Changes she rec­om­mended were not picked up and she did not know why, she said.

They in­cluded more day­clinic surgery to re­lieve pres­sure on main the­atres.

The board needed to find new ways of pro­vid­ing pro­ce­dures, she said.

Asked what was dif­fer­ent now, Ms Far­ley said the chief ex­ec­u­tive and com­mis­sioner were ‘‘very fo­cused

❛ What we don’t want to do is deal with the back­log and have

that back­log oc­cur again

and de­ter­mined’’.

Prostate can­cer pa­tient Stephen Hoff­man, of Dunedin, whose can­cer wors­ened while he waited five months be­tween first spe­cial­ist as­sess­ment and surgery, said if he had been treated promptly he would have been back at work now.

His seven­week wait for a biopsy would have been con­sid­er­ably longer had he not ‘‘pleaded his case’’ with the depart­ment.

By the time he had surgery, the tu­mour had grown on to the rec­tum.

‘‘When you see your spe­cial­ist, if he thinks you need a biopsy, you ba­si­cally should be wheeled into the room right be­side him and get a biopsy done.’’

He had surgery in July and would be off work un­til next year. Be­cause of the de­lay he needed ra­di­a­tion treat­ment as well.

Af­fected prostate can­cer pa­tient Paul Schofield is form­ing a watch­dog group to en­sure pa­tients’ voices are heard.

He said he had been put in touch with three Dunedin GPs who wanted to have in­put.

‘‘The fact that [wait­ing lists] have built up ei­ther in­di­cates aw­ful in­ef­fi­ciency or lack of fund­ing — one or the other.

‘‘It’s OK hav­ing a blitz, that’s great, to catch up, but if you haven’t ad­dressed the ini­tial prob­lems then it’s just go­ing to re­peat it­self,’’ Mr Schofield said.

eileen.good­win@odt.co.nz

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