Arrival of new surgeon delayed

A new neurosurgeon who had been expected to start working at Dunedin Hospital last month will not be arriving until February.

The hospital's only neurosurgeon, Suzanne Jackson, has resigned and leaves in January.

However, a locum neurosurgeon would be providing cover from early January, Otago District Health Board group manager Colleen Coop said.

United Kingdom-trained neurosurgeon Mr Irfan Malik had originally been expected to start at Dunedin Hospital in September, but the registration and immigration process had delayed his expected arrival until last month.

However, the registration process is not yet complete and the hospital now expects him to start no later than the beginning of February, Dr Coop said.

The registration process for overseas appointments could take up to six months, she said.

To gain vocational registration all overseas doctors coming to work in New Zealand must apply to the Medical Council of New Zealand.

Overseas doctors are given provisional registration for up to two years by the medical council and they must work under supervision for at least 12 months.

Supervision for Mr Malik would be provided locally, Dr Coop said.

The hospital had been fortunate to get a locum to provide cover when Ms Jackson leaves as it was hard to find locum neurosurgeons who met the requirements of the medical council.

The United Kingdom-based locum had previously worked for other district health boards around New Zealand and he would be coming to Dunedin Hospital for periods of about three months during the next year, she said.

Financial arrangements and costs had not yet been finalised, but using locums was generally an expensive option.

The board was still recruiting to fill Ms Jackson's position.

Ms Jackson has been covering Otago and Southland alone since the start of the year.

The neurosurgery service deals with about 350 patients a year, including from waiting lists and those needing urgent attention because of trauma or illness.

Canterbury neurosurgeons have been providing acute cover every second weekend and patients who required urgent treatment were transferred to Christchurch Hospital.

About three patients have been transferred to Christchurch this year.


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