Gastro centre partnership unlikely

The Southern District Health Board is no longer confident of partnering the University of Otago in funding a gastrointestinal diseases centre development, although the university remained key to establishing the centre of excellence, DHB chief operating officer (Otago) Vivian Blake says.

The budget constraints on both parties of funding the $5 million development had proved a stumbling block, as had a lack of space on the eighth floor of Dunedin Hospital, which was shared between the hospital and the university.

It was expected the new facility would provide an extra endoscopy room, and it was now likely the DHB would need to revise planning on providing that.

Extending the facility was still possible, although unlikely.

It was still possible the university would come through, perhaps providing part rather than half the cost, or funding it in another financial year, she said.

"It's really to do with everybody's budget constraints.

"We all believe that this is a really good idea, and that it all should be done, but it's a matter of how do we fit this in with our current capital requirements".

The university was still a key part of the gastrointestinal unit of excellence, in its clinical and research aspects, and it was purely the capital side of the project in doubt, she emphasised.

The appointment of surgeon Prof John McCall as interim clinical leader of the service, was further progress towards establishing the unit of academic excellence, to provide clinical services while supporting research and training.

Mrs Blake said partnering with Mercy Hospital might be an option, as was looking for a site other than Dunedin Hospital.

Despite the hold-up, the DHB was on track with improving access to colonoscopy. Progress included monthly clinics starting at Dunstan Hospital in June, which would improve access for patients in Central Otago.

This year, 2011-12, the Invercargill site was carrying out 1200 colonoscopies, Dunedin 800. From next financial year it was planned to even up provision on the sites.

A recent purchase of colonoscopy equipment worth $180,000 for Dunedin allowed an increase in procedures.

Another positive step was establishing a tool to ensure equal prioritisation of patients for colonoscopy across the whole DHB, which is now in place.

Dunedin had found it difficult to provide enough colonoscopies, which was one reason the National Health Board reviewed hospital systems last year.



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