Southern and Canterbury district health boards now have
joint responsibility for the neurosurgery service that caused
serious tension when they could not agree on how it would be
The South Island neurosurgery governance board, established
to guide the fledgling service's first three years, ceased
Southern District Health Board chairman Joe Butterfield said
yesterday responsibility now rested with the two boards and
their neurosurgery hubs in Dunedin and Christchurch.
The disestablishment had been scheduled, and was a sign
service development had gone to plan, he said.
He was also chairman of the neurosurgery governance board,
after taking over from Melbourne neurosurgeon Prof Andrew
Kaye, who guided it from inception for the first couple of
It was put in place after the two district boards could not
agree on how to provide a South Island service.
There were other changes, with the recent retirement of the
service's first clinical leader, Martin MacFarlane, who had
initially opposed the two-site service but then implemented
the decision to base neurosurgery in both centres.
Fellow Christchurch neurosurgeon Nicholas Finnis was acting
Mr Butterfield said tension between Christchurch and Dunedin
was inevitable in a joint service.
Asked about a lack of reports about neurosurgery to Southern
board meetings, Mr Butterfield said there was no reason to
report about the service, as it was operational, including
the fact the establishment board was being wound up.
Service implementation manager Joy Farley's role would end
Asked whether the neurosurgery board compiled a 2012-13
annual report, he suggested the Otago Daily Times contact the
Ministry of Health; a ministry spokesman said yesterday it
appeared no annual report had been compiled.
Dr Brian McMahon, of Dunedin, who led fundraising for a
neurosurgery academic unit in Dunedin, said the unit seemed
to be in good shape, and was getting on well with
''From what I gather ... the attitudes between the two
departments are very good.''
The two had to work together to survive in a ''hard world'',
Dunedin neurosurgeons Prof Dirk De Ridder, Reuben Johnson,
and Ahmad Taha worked well together, Dr McMahon said.
There was no reason the clinical leader had to be based in
Christchurch, although many doctors would not seek that
responsibility on top of other duties, Dr McMahon said.
Concern the service could be lost from Dunedin sparked a
protest rally of up to 10,000 people in August 2010 and a
An expert panel appointed by the Director-general of Health
decided it would be provided in Christchurch and Dunedin.