Man gets surgery date after MP acts

John Young
John Young
A Dunedin man who has waited nearly six months for urgent prostate surgery was given a date for the operation within days of his local MP asking the health board about his care.

John Young has spent months with a catheter, fitted in October for an enlarged prostate.

He was triaged urgent by Southern District Health Board for specialist assessment for surgery but, despite repeated efforts, could not get an appointment.

His wait should have been two months at most. He has had several infections, courses of antibiotics, visits to the emergency department, and numerous trips to his GP.

He said he accepted the board had a shortage of urologists, but asked why he was not referred to Canterbury's health board. He said a clinician told him this would be too costly.

Unusually fit for his 80 years, Mr Young has had his walking, tramping, and fishing activities curtailed by the catheter.

He has continued regular gym visits, with a modified routine, to try to keep his fitness, which would be difficult to regain once lost.

The wait and its associated health and financial cost made no sense when the procedure was a straightforward transurethral resection of the prostate, he said.

He emphasised he was not blaming health staff. The fault lay with underfunding of Dunedin Hospital. Dunedin seemed to be a ''lost city'', probably because it tended to vote Labour, he said.

New Zealanders should have equal rights regardless of their electorate, he believed.

He attended the public meeting about health organised by Labour MPs in Dunedin recently, which alerted Dunedin South MP Clare Curran to his case.

She emailed board chief executive Carole Heatly this month. Five days later, the board contacted Mr Young with confirmation of both assessment and surgery. The procedure will be performed on Thursday.

Ms Curran referred the board an email from Mr Young's GP, David Kent, expressing frustration over the suffering endured by ''probably the most active and independent 80-year-old that I know''.

''My colleagues in other parts of the country are appalled and shocked by the service levels we have in Dunedin for a range of services, which to my and many colleagues' eyes seem to be lengthening and worsening.''

Ms Curran told the Otago Daily Times her electorate office was seeing more health patients wanting help. She was happy to assist, but it did not seem right that it took her intervention to gain treatment.

Southern District Health Board patient services director Lexie O'Shea, in a statement, said a new urologist started this week, and another would join the department in May, easing a staff shortage. For some time the hospital has had only one urologist, supported by locums.

''These new appointments will go a long way towards resolving issues with waiting times in the department.''

Mrs O'Shea said she would not comment specifically on Mr Young's case. He had complained to the board, and this would be addressed directly with him, the statement said.

Mrs O'Shea did not respond to questions about whether patients were told the board could not afford to refer them to another hospital, and whether Mr Young received a surgery slot because of Ms Curran's intervention.


My understanding from a year or two back was that the new dental school project was all but ready to begin with funding secured so it's disappointing to hear it hasn't got underway.

I echo your comments on the excellent staff! 

Dental School

The dental school is very run down - I was there today. Grafitti in the slow, scruffy elevator, notices stuck on every available space, seating from the 1960's, chipped paint. And that's just the waiting room.. They have an paper file system which has people running between four levels. Notes should be on computer and quickly available. Everything is so cluttered and unattractive.

The staff however are wonderful.

Clinical and secretarial staff are not only professional they deal with all types who are under pain and anxiety. The students, who are well supervised and trained by top notch dentists, are kind and reassuring to patients.

Staff and patients deserve better.  I wonder how long they must wait for the new school? 

'Run down' defined

It's not all that run down - there's a flash new dental school? Some rumblings from certain departments in the hospital suggest staff shortages are more of a concern than the school side of it.

Dunedin MPs

Yes, thanks to the MPs for doing their best for the region. However they should not have to push so hard for first class public health.

We should facilities equal to other cities in NZ especially as we have a medical and dental school here. These students should see and use the best equipment, treatments and management that is available for patients. It's all pretty rundown right now.


Don't read into it...

Curran has done well here. She has taken some affirmative action on something really important.

As for Dunedin voting patterns and resources allocated, I don't think Dunedin being Labour leaning has much effect. Waitaki is a swing voting electorate which often seems to support the side which ends up winning and they don't benefit from Govt funding like Dunedin does. In fact they have big problems with the Govt cutting funding on rural roads.

Anyway, Dunedin North will be a little bluer than previously with the boundary now taking in more rural areas. The root of the problem is that the city has stagnated. Dunedin's population increase is slower than the population increase nationally which is diminishing it's significance when it comes to health budgeting and other things like demand for air travel which results in services reduced, much to Curran's detriment. All the more reason to Build Dunedin!

No lollies for Dunedin.

John Young is most likely quite right in his statement of "Dunedin seemed to be a ''lost city probably because it tended to vote Labour". But on the other hand Labour also treats Dunedin as "a lost city", They Labour don't need to throw any lollies to the area at all as they well know that Dunedin is a safe seats area!

Seems to be a culture in the health system

Seems to be a culture in the NZ Health System once you reach a certain age just go away and die ... if it was an ACC referral then let's do it..or if you can pay for it then go private.


Treatment dependent on politicians

Ministers hate questions being asked in the House about lack of action. This story is an example of why, when people are dissatisfied with lack of action or response from certain agencies, they should approach an opposition MP. Epecially in election year.

As sad is it is, that is the way the world works. All the best to Mr Young. 

Dunedin MPs

Kudos to the member for Dunedin South, for most effective representation. Also to Michael Woodhouse, trying to get DCC to pull finger over synth cannabis laws.

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