40-week wait for CT scan

Patients are waiting 40 weeks for a routine CT scan at Dunedin Hospital, a report to tomorrow's hospital advisory committee shows.

Southern District Health Board is trying to reduce waiting times, which reached 87 weeks for a routine MRI at Dunedin Hospital two years ago.

It is taking a region-wide view, which increasingly means patients need to travel to other centres for procedures.

Patients now wait 35 weeks for a routine MRI scan in Dunedin, and up to 26 weeks for routine ultrasound. Dunedin was also not meeting targets for urgent CT and ultrasound, but the report did not disclose how long patients waited for those.

Patients in Southland receive routine CT and MRI scans within the target times of 12 and 16 weeks respectively. In addition, there is no unscheduled wait list at Southland, whereas in Dunedin nearly 500 patients were waiting for an appointment.

In recent months, Otago MRI patients have been able to travel to Invercargill for their procedure, and a similar arrangement has just been introduced for CT for South Otago patients. In a new arrangement from this month, Waitaki would scan CT patients from the Oamaru area, the report by senior manager Elaine Chisnall said.

Oamaru Hospital general manager Robert Gonzales said when contacted he was pleased to have reached a new agreement last month with the board to scan more patients in the machine acquired in 2008, although an existing arrangement had seen it do two board-funded scans a week.

The machine, which is partly used by the private sector and ACC, was running at 35% capacity. An Official Information Act request to the board reveals a 35% increase in patients at Dunedin Hospital waiting for skin-lesion surgery (167 patients), as at January 15, compared with the previous year. In contrast, numbers of those waiting for surgery at Southland Hospital had dropped.

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