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Southern cancer diagnosis and treatment waiting lists have been at record levels in recent months, partly driven by cancers going undetected and untreated during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
Recently, the SDHB signed an agreement for St George’s Hospital, in Christchurch, to treat up to 200 breast and prostate cancer patients, and it is also trialling sending some patients to Wellington.
SDHB women’s and children’s medicine general manager Simon Donlevy said patients who were already receiving care in Christchurch were continuing to be treated.
"We are working with these patients to ensure this can occur safely while we are in Alert Level 4.
"We are also working with St George’s around the possibility of referring new patients to them at this time."
For now, oncology services, including treatment, are continuing to operate at SDHB hospitals.
Level 4 might be a boon for under-pressure cancer services, as the SDHB is considering expanding services while hospital services, other than emergency departments, are generally quieter than usual.
"We are also looking are looking to continue to maximise our capacity in Southern DHB," Mr Donlevy said.
"That includes the utilisation of weekend clinics, when possible, to minimise the impact of the changes in alert levels on our wait times."