Oncologist reiterates concerns over hospital plan

Keeping the oncology department separate from the new Dunedin Hospital, as intended by planners, will mean 1400 ambulance trips a year between the two buildings, a cancer clinician estimates.

Dunedin Hospital radiation oncologist Lyndell Kelly raised concerns about the proposed separation in Saturday's Otago Daily Times, saying radiotherapy patients would end up being pushed down Cumberland St in stretchers.

Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson said he had been told there would be about two or three patient transfers a week, and it had been decided to retain the oncology building as it was relatively modern.

Dr Kelly, who is a candidate in the Southern District Health Board election, disputed both Mr Hodgson's estimate of patient transfers and the oncology building's suitability.

She said there were actually two to five ransfers to and from oncology per day.

"This separation will mean 1400 ambulance trips per year for the most fragile and ill patients we treat.''

Keeping the service separate from wards would make clinical rounds very difficult, and staffing would have to be increased to cope.

"Time will be wasted waiting for transport or Lime scootering down Cumberland St footpath.''

Dr Kelly said the existing building was already too small, and eight more staff were now working there than when she began at Dunedin Hospital in 2005.

"We need to hire more but we have nowhere to put them; we have put a physicist in what was a cupboard.

"Clinic rooms are at a premium and clinics have to be scheduled according to space.''

Dr Kelly also disagreed that linear accelerators could not be moved, saying other centres had relocated the heavy machines and Dunedin could do so, too.

Mr Hodgson declined to comment, other than to say Dr Kelly's views were "at some variance'' with advice he had received.



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