4-6 months backlog in surgery

Chris Fleming
Chris Fleming
Clearing the Southern District Health Board’s Covid-19-related surgical backlog could take four to six months and require private sector help, chief executive Chris Fleming says.

Staff have drafted a ‘‘surgical recovery plan’’ to clear a waiting list of patients which was already long before the pandemic resulted in all but acute surgical services being shut down for several weeks.

In a report for the SDHB board meeting next week, Mr Fleming said a plan for Dunedin Hospital was about to be consulted on, and a similar plan was being developed for Southland Hospital.

As well as clearing the inpatient backlog, surgeons hoped to catch up on some of the SDHB’s ‘‘ESPI 5’’ waiting list of elective patients who had waited longer than the Ministry of Health target of 120 days for their operations.

‘‘We calculate that we can address circa 33% of all ESPI 5 breaches in Dunedin during recovery,’’ Mr Fleming said.

‘‘We have calculated that we need circa 44 all-day surgical lists in order for the specialties to recover the deterioration to their inpatient wait lists, which leaves a further 100 lists that can be used to improve ESPI 5 performance.’’

Recovery in 15 weeks would need Dunedin Hospital to run about 10 lists per week; recovery in 25 weeks required six lists per week.

‘‘We will now ‘shop out’ the lists to the specialties to see what can be achieved and this will determine the length of time required to catch up.’’

Consultation suggested the private sector would need to be called on to help, Mr
Fleming said.

‘‘If we are to be caseweight-funded for recovery, the smoothest route to recovering quickly will be to outsource cases on private lists where possible.’’

Mercy Hospital in Dunedin had already been used for some operations, and surgery in Dunedin for the week ended May 15 had run at 95% of target.

‘‘From next week the Covid-19 theatres are being returned to normal use and with some successful weekend bookings they have booked at circa 115% of normal capacity for next week,’’ Mr Fleming said.

Surgical procedures are allocated a ‘‘case- weight’’, a figure which does not correlate to the number of people awaiting operations.

Mr Fleming said around 850 case- weights needed to be achieved for Dunedin to clear the Covid-19-created backlog.

The inpatient wait list was an estimated 188 patients, a lower figure due to fewer first specialist appointments being made during the lockdown period.

‘‘First specialist assessments were down circa 70% during the period and despite all deferrable elective surgery being cancelled, the overall deterioration to the wait list was modest as a consequence,’’ Mr Fleming said.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

Comments

As someone on the Dunedin Hospital surgical waiting list, I really wish I could understand this article. I’ve read it twice, and I’m still confused. Can anyone understand this statement?: ‘We have calculated that we need circa 44 all-day surgical lists in order for the specialties to recover the deterioration to their inpatient wait lists, which leaves a further 100 lists that can be used to improve ESPI 5 performance.’ Sorry, what? If the interviewee spouts only jargon, could the journalist please do readers the courtesy of translating it into English?

The superiorly renumerated language of verbose obscurity.............."baffle them with BS". Wins everytime......so they think.

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