Dunedin Hospital might be a step closer to getting a revamped
endoscopy suite, according to its gastroenterology clinical
leader, but board management is tight-lipped about the
In a recent interview, Dr Jason Hill indicated he expected
the upgrade would happen before the end of this year.
Agreement had been reached with the University of Otago to
extend the space occupied by the service on the eighth floor
of the hospital, he said.
At the moment, the extra space is used by university staff.
The proposed new suite would have two and a-half procedure
rooms, compared with the single room in the existing set-up.
Two of the rooms would be used for endoscopies and the use of
the smaller room would include preparatory procedures, he
Board executive director of patient services Lexie O'Shea
responded to further questions about any upgrade with a
one-sentence emailed response saying the project was in its
early stages ''and we are scoping out opportunities''.
Concern about the inadequacy of the existing unit has been
raised since 1995 with a variety of proposals failing to get
past the drawing board.
In June last year, a group of prominent current and former
clinicians, headed by Emeritus Prof Gil Barbezat, from the
Gastrointestinal Diseases Centre (GIDC) establishment board,
went public about their concerns about the lack of progress
on the matter.
Although they acknowledged improvements were being made to
the service, they said it defied belief that Dunedin had the
poorest major facility charged with diagnosing colorectal
cancer in New Zealand and continued to have its
''well-defined needs ignored after nearly 20 years''.
Prof Barbezat said last month while the compromise outlined
by Dr Hill was short of the originally planned GIDC, if it
came to fruition, it would be a significant advance with the
potential to provide a much better endoscopy service to the
Hopefully, it would also provide a better training facility
for the Medical School and the DHB.
Dr Hill said he had always been confident the facility would
be upgraded, but when he had come to Southern from Hamilton
in 2012, he made a commitment to improve the service
regardless of spending on an upgrade.
You could deliver colonoscopies ''in a car park in a tent''
with a superb team, he said.
He was proud of the work his team had done to improve access
to the colonoscopy service so almost 100% of patients
referred for both urgent and non-urgent procedures (including
surveillance colonoscopies) now received them within the
Considerable work was also being done to improve the referral
process so the electronic template used asked general
practitioners for the relevant information, consistent with
the national guidelines.
The team had also conducted an audit of 767 cases where
surveillance colonoscopy might have been deferred or denied
in Otago between 2007 and 2011.
He was unaware of any other board where there had been or
still was a variance in colonoscopy provision, compared with
national guidelines, that had done such an investigation.