DHB bat­tling colonoscopy back­log

Nelson Mail - - News - Sa­man­tha Gee sa­man­[email protected]

Nel­son Marl­bor­ough Health is still deal­ing with a back­log of colono­scopies, de­spite hav­ing a plan to clear them by Novem­ber.

At last week’s dis­trict health board meet­ing, deputy chair Alan Hinton said there had been a ‘‘very small im­prove­ment’’ in the num­ber of sur­veil­lance colono­scopies com­pleted since Au­gust.

A colonoscopy is a test used to look at the lin­ing of the bowel, us­ing a tube con­tain­ing a tiny cam­era. The na­tional bowel screen­ing pro­gramme was rolled out in Nel­son and Marl­bor­ough in Au­gust, adding to the hos­pi­tal’s ex­ist­ing screen­ing work­load.

The same month, it was re­ported that there were 308 over­due sur­veil­lance colono­scopies across the dis­trict, and a plan had been de­vel­oped by the Min­istry of Health to en­sure the back­log was re­duced to zero by Novem­ber.

How­ever, a re­port to the board on Novem­ber 21 showed there were still 285 over­due sur­veil­lance colono­scopies.

Gen­eral man­ager of clin­i­cal ser­vices Lexie O’Shea said there had been a cou­ple of chal­lenges with the de­liv­ery plan, in­clud­ing a lack of re­source to per­form the ex­am­i­na­tions.

‘‘The scopists that we had avail­able to us pre­vi­ously have been wellu­tilised around the coun­try and prob­a­bly need a bit of a break, so we have used our own scopists, and we have had oth­ers locum for us to main­tain the vol­umes.’’

Since the na­tional bowel screen­ing pro­gramme was launched in the dis­trict on Au­gust 14, there had been 82 pos­i­tive tests and 31 screen­ing colono­scopies.

Board mem­ber Brigid For­rest asked if the num­bers of peo­ple re­ferred were at the ex­pected level.

O’Shea said the num­bers had been higher than ex­pected, and there was work be­ing done at a na­tional level to de­velop more ac­cu­rate es­ti­mates.

Nel­son Marl­bor­ough Health de­liv­ers around 2000 colono­scopies each year.

The first pri­or­ity is those pa­tients who need a colonoscopy on re­fer­ral from their GP be­cause of symp­toms.

The sec­ond pri­or­ity is those who have had a pos­i­tive test as part of the new bowel screen­ing pro­gramme and need a colonoscopy to con­firm a di­ag­no­sis.

The third pri­or­ity is mon­i­tor­ing those with pre­vi­ous is­sues or a fam­ily his­tory. This group will have a fol­lowup colonoscopy ev­ery one, two or three years as ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘‘The scopists that we had avail­able to us pre­vi­ously . . . prob­a­bly need a bit of a break, so we have used our own scopists, and we have had oth­ers locum for us to main­tain the vol­umes.’’ Lexie O’Shea, Nel­son Marl­bor­ough Health gen­eral man­ager of clin­i­cal ser­vices

O’Shea said there had been some progress with non-ur­gent colono­scopies, and the health board was hold­ing more scop­ing ses­sions to

work through the over­due ex­am­i­na­tions. It was also con­tact­ing avail­able en­do­scopists and fully util­is­ing ca­pac­ity across the dis­trict.

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