Despite long waiting times for routine MRI and CT scans,
Dunedin Hospital's scanners run for an hour less each day
than in Invercargill.
In Dunedin, where patients at last count waited 35 weeks for
a routine MRI, and 40 weeks for a routine CT, the machines
run from 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
In Southland, where patients were scanned within target
times, the scanners run from 8am to 5pm, each weekday. Target
wait times there are 12 weeks for CT and 16 weeks for MRI.
In both centres, the scanners were used outside normal hours
for urgent cases, Southern District Health Board said in a
statement. Increasing running times of the machines was being
considered to cut waiting times.
Southland Hospital is being used to help relieve some of the
pressure on Dunedin Hospital. Patients referred there have to
pay their own travel costs. In December, health board chief
executive Carole Heatly wrote to Outram woman Carol Bryan,
who was waiting for an MRI, and told her purchasing a second
machine was not being considered because of cost, but the
board was trying to better utilise its machine.
''At the moment, the [MRI] scanner only runs for eight hours
daily and we are working to try and increase those hours,''
the letter said. The Dunedin machine scanned about a dozen
patients each day, Ms Heatly's letter said.
When contacted, Mrs Bryan said she believed the scanner
should be operated for a longer time each day, and Dunedin
should buy a second machine, because of the ageing
population, and large student population.
Dunedin woman Sophie Barker travelled to Sydney for an MRI a
couple of years ago because it was cheaper than a private
scan in Dunedin, and she did not want to wait for a public
When contacted, Ms Barker said: ''The waiting time [in
Dunedin] is absolutely ridiculous and incredibly stressful.''
Southern District Health Board deputy chairman Paul Menzies
said the management team was working hard to resolve the
issue, but it was not a straightforward problem to fix.
''It's always a resourcing issue, mostly around human
resources, availability of these people, and the number you
Otago and Southland would soon have four CT scanners, when
Dunstan received its machine this year, so it was important
to adopt a regional view, he said.