New SDHB strategy for urology waiting list

The Southern District Health Board has introduced new "one-stop shop" urology clinics to attempt to consolidate gains made by its "super clinics" held last year.

A review last year found some urology patients had waited up to three years for follow-up appointments, cancer patients were kept on hold more than six months for surgery and surveillance cystoscopy cases were up to a year overdue.

"Super-clinics" were set up late last year, and urologists came south to help ease the patient backlog.

With the new clinics set up and  plans to hire more staff in place, SDHB surgical services manager Janine Cochrane is  confident the long waiting lists will not be repeated.

"The super clinics were an opportunity to introduce a new model of care that streamlines the outpatients’ clinics and reduces the number of outpatient visits needed," she  said.

"We have reviewed and are implementing changes to a number of processes, to enable more appointments and surgeries through better management of staff time and theatre capacity, and better arranging our clinics, so a patient who requires a procedure that can be done in outpatients will receive it as part of the appointment, rather than come back on another day.

"We started running these one-stop shop outpatient clinics last week."

The SDHB has appointed an additional part-time nurse to urology, and is trying to recruit a part-time consultant urologist and a full-time registrar.

In the meantime, the department is employing locum urologists when needed, and the department’s medical officers are working additional clinic hours.

"While the recruitment process continues our staff are doing a fantastic job and are working very hard to implement the one-stop shop outpatient clinics and see as many patients as they can," Dr Cochrane said.

The super clinics allowed  12 urologists — nine of them from elsewhere in New Zealand — to see several hundred patients over two weekends.

The clinics had focused on seeing and treating the backlog of patients referred for a new appointment, or a follow up appointment.

"All patients attending the super clinics who needed treatment received this at the time of appointment, and all those who needed urgent surgery have received it," Dr Cochrane said.

"Patients who required a follow up cystoscopy are on the planned list for procedures as part of follow-up appointments."

The clinics were not universally popular. Dunedin Hospital urologist Kampta Samalia calling them a publicity stunt which would have been unnecessary if calls to boost urology services had been heeded earlier.

Dr Cochrane said the Southern DHB was extremely pleased with the impact of the super clinics.

"[We] are confident the process has made a significant difference in repositioning the service for the future."

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