Free rein in review of service

The man brought in to help resolve longstanding differences involving the Southern District Health Board's gastroenterology service has been given a free rein.

Former chairman of the New Zealand Medical Council, Andrew Connolly, who is a Counties Manakau colorectal surgeon, is expected to begin work on the task this month.

Board chief executive Chris Fleming, responding to a query about this work through a formal Official Information Act response, said there were no terms of reference or briefs for the work Mr Connolly was undertaking.

"Mr Connolly has agreed to meet with both surgeons and gastroenterologists across both sites to begin conversations about our services from a strength-based approach, and to provide assistance and advice on how we deliver these services collaboratively in the future."

He could not estimate at this stage what it would cost. Final costs would include flights and other travel expenses.

It is also not known how long this will take.

Mr Connolly was called in as a result of the recent independent review by Christchurch clinicians Phil Bagshaw and Steven Ding, which raised concerns about relationships within the gastroenterology department and with other services, including longstanding issues involving Southland Hospital surgeons.

Previous attempts to sort out the differences have been unsuccessful.

The audit reviewed 20 cases and found that in 10 of them there had been undue delay to diagnosis or treatment.

After receiving the report, board management decided it wanted an audit of 102 cases to be led by Gastroenterology Society president Dr Malcolm Arnold.

The terms of reference, released under the OIA, state the purpose of the review is to undertake an audit of cases suspected of being at risk by the SDHB gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgeon teams.

It will also look at a control group of cases to establish if any underlying factors were common and not attributable to the outcomes.

No time for completion or cost estimates are given for the review, which is expected to determine the effect of the system on patient outcomes and experience, where attributable.

It will also identify whether any of the cases reviewed need following up.


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