‘Publicity stunt’ at super-clinic

Kampta Samalia
Kampta Samalia
Dunedin Hospital urologist Kampta Samalia has accused his bosses of mounting a publicity stunt.

In a letter to the Otago Daily Times, Mr Samalia criticised the handling of the urology super-clinic at the weekend.

Organised after life-threatening delays were revealed, the Southern District Health Board was keen for the super-clinic to be covered by the ODT as a good-news story.

Staff lined up for a photo outside the hospital and commissioner Kathy Grant and deputy commissioner Richard Thomson  directed patients.

"The publicity with pictures, and the commissioners directing the patients to clinic, is a publicity stunt.

"My only hope is that the urology service will never be put in this position again affecting the people of Otago," Mr Samalia wrote.

When contacted, he  said he was frustrated health bosses did nothing about the problem in June 2016 when a comprehensive review was brought to their attention.

Chief executive Chris Fleming has said it pre-dated his time at the board, and commissioner Kathy Grant has said it was not brought to her attention. Mr Samalia said it was unacceptable for senior executives to leave and not be accountable.

"You knew this problem; you knew you had failed the patients."

He was scathing about the presence of Mrs Grant and Mr Thomson at the super-clinic.

"There was a lot of genuine people who came and helped. Some worked on normal salary, some got paid a little bit more, and some got paid a lot.

"This wasn’t a free jaunt."

Mr Samalia said a fourth urologist for Dunedin Hospital was promised years ago, but the money was reallocated to hire a urologist at Southland Hospital.

"Since then we have been crying that we are short, short, short, and nobody listened.

"I’m very pleased that the patients got dealt with [at the super-clinic] and what I don’t want is this thing repeated."

Mr Samalia did not take part in the super-clinic but was on-call. By far the longest-serving Dunedin urologist, Mr Samalia has largely been silent until now on the treatment crisis.

He gained two much-needed specialist colleagues in 2014 after several years as the sole  urologist. Significant tensions between urologists and management were highlighted in a review this year.

On Sunday, urologist Dr Al Hepburn was more positive than his colleague, but took a swipe at his bosses for not addressing the problem sooner.

A health board spokeswoman declined to comment on Mr Samalia’s letter.


Oh dear, the person who in my opinion was the long term cause of the problem (who I note did not participate in the clinic) deigns to twist the spanner that he long ago threw into the works.

Backlogs of patients don't occur overnight. It took many months, even years of avoiding the issue to build that backlog.
SDHB announced a couple of months ago they were hiring another part time urologist. Obviously no one has been hired as yet.
We still have the group of 3 soaking money deciding what and where the new hospital will be built. We have a bunch of consultants reports which cost millions gathering dust. We have some overpaid commissioners who instead of getting the SDHB ready for an elected board are squirreling money away as fast as they can.
End result we have a bunch of people being paid big money to do very little, meanwhile southern patients are suffering.

Time for the new health minister to make some decisions and get SDHB spending money where it should be, on patients, not pen pushers.