Hospital treatment 'shocking': ex-nurse

Susan Wigmore is not pleased with the way she was treated at Dunedin Hospital's urology department. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Susan Wigmore is not pleased with the way she was treated at Dunedin Hospital's urology department. Photo by Craig Baxter.

''Shocking'' is how a former nurse describes the way she was treated at Dunedin Hospital's urology department.

Susan Wigmore, of Warrington, said she was unhappy with the time it took to receive treatment for a cancerous growth in her right kidney and with the way she was treated by staff at the hospital's urology department.

Her GP ordered an ultrasound following ''wonky'' blood tests in April and after months of waiting in the public system, she borrowed some money from a friend and had a private ultrasound at Mercy Hospital in September.

The ultrasound showed an 8cm cancerous mass in her kidney. She went to the urology department at Dunedin Hospital to discuss her treatment options in October.

''I went in and had a pretty disastrous meeting with what I found out was a young registrar,'' Ms Wigmore said.

The registrar did not introduce himself and she still did not know his name. He spoke to her rudely and abruptly, she said.

''When this young doctor was banging on, I broke into it and said `hey, I'm a health professional of 25 years' and then his manner changed. But I thought why should I have to prove my credentials before I get what should be general politeness.''

She was informed the surgeon would remove part of her right kidney by open surgery and was also told: ''it won't be a matter of weeks, it will be a matter of months until we can do surgery'', she said.

She questioned why they would not remove the whole kidney, as it had limited function due to a past medical condition, or perform keyhole surgery. The registrar said he would call her the next day, she said.

After she did not hear back from the registrar, she again visited her GP and wrote a letter of complaint to the hospital.

She received a letter from surgical general manager Lynley Irvine in December, a copy of which Ms Wigmore supplied to the Otago Daily Times, which said ''the doctors concerned ... asked us to convey to you a very sincere apology for your distress and anxiety over the way in which the clinic was conducted''.

Ms Wigmore said she had since been referred to Southland Hospital and would receive keyhole surgery later this month.

However, it did not make up for the manner in which she was treated or the delay in receiving treatment, she said.

Southern District Health Board medical director of patient services Richard Bunton said urology services at the hospital had been stretched, as ''for the past couple of years we have had to manage with one [consultant urologist] plus locum cover''.

The situation had improved as two new urologists would start at the hospital this year, one in March and the other in May.

He could not comment on individual cases, but said ''urology services are provided to patients in a safe, timely way consistent with clinical priority within the constraints relating to availability of consultant surgeons''.

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