Delayed urology audit now next month

Photo: ODT files.
Photo: ODT files.
A formal audit of the Southern District Health Board’s urology service has yet to be carried out, a year after a scathing report into its performance was released.

The audit was one of several recommendations made by health and disability commissioner Anthony Hill in his report, released in October last year.

The audit was planned for the start of 2020 but Covid-19 derailed those plans, SDHB surgical services and radiology general manager Janine Cochrane said.

"The formal audit is to take place as part of the urology credentialling which was delayed due to Covid, and this is now due to be undertaken in early December 2020."

The SDHB would release a summary of the report, probably six weeks after the credentialling team reviewed the service, she said.

The HDC report was instigated after the commissioner received 38 complaints related to the service within a short period.

It found that one-third of patients were not treated within acceptable time frames, and that the SDHB reacted too slowly to the impending backlog of patients.

However, Mr Hill also said subsequent SDHB actions, such as scheduling urology "mega clinics" were commendable.

A patient of the service, who asked not to be named, was keen to see the audit completed.

They said that two years ago they had been messed around for several months by the urology service over appointments.

"It was a complete shocker ... it feels like they need to be accountable if only to keep them on their toes."

Dr Cochrane said the SDHB now reviewed referrals weekly: in the HDC report it said some patients were not seen because referral or follow-up requests for appointments were “lost in the system”.

"In my view, the service should have in place a robust process for tracking and accounting for all referrals and requests for follow-up," Mr Hill said.

Such issues were not unique to the SDHB, but it owed its patients a duty of care to fix the issues, his report said.

"[I recommend] a quantitative and qualitative audit of the management of Urology Service referrals and follow-ups since September 2017, to be certain that tracking systems are in place and all referrals are responded to in a timely manner."

The SDHB has introduced a prioritisation tool to assess urology referrals, which in July it said had improved the service from having 80 patients in breach of acceptable waiting times to no breaches.

In September the board’s hospital advisory committee was told urology was also working with medical imaging to get scans completed faster, and it had improved the previous waiting time of 31 days.


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