The Southern District Health Board may opt out of running
Otago and Southland's breast-screening service.
It said yesterday it was consulting BreastScreen Healthcare
staff and unions about the service, which it provides under
contract for BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA) through the National
Screening Unit. The contract expires on June 30 next year.
The smallest breast-screening service in New Zealand, it had
not been able to recruit enough medical staff despite a
strong recruitment drive, the proposal document said.
Counties Manukau District Health Board provides second and
third-screen readings, but could not provide it past June 30
The southern service also relies on other external providers,
and on locums. Patient services director Lexie O'Shea said
the board could either find a way to deliver the service
itself, or not renew the contract and allow BSA to find
''The consultation process is a way to engage with our staff
and their representatives to ensure that the model we come up
with is the right one for the service and the community.''
Because of an ongoing 1.3 full-time equivalent radiologist
vacancy, radiologists worked excessive hours to fill gaps.
The National Screening Unit had indicated that even if the
board fully recruited its radiologist positions, it would not
have the critical mass on its own to ensure adequate peer
review and audits, the proposal document said.
Reliance on external support led to a ''disconnected patient
pathway'', and high cost for the board.
If kept in-house, the service had to be significantly
strengthened: ''This option will require much more work to
investigate how these issues can be resolved when strategies
to date have been unsuccessful'', the proposal document said.
The service involves on-site screening and assessment at both
Dunedin Hospital and Southland Hospital, screening only on
the mobile screening unit, and a health promotion role in the
Diagnostic mammography is not part of the BSA contract, and
further investigation was needed into how it could be
provided. The proposal was released yesterday for staff and
union feedback. Staff will be told the final decision on