Prostate report should have been raised

Chris Fleming
Chris Fleming
A review highlighting long wait times for prostate cancer treatment should have been given to them last year, Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming and commissioner Kathy Grant say.

The pair issued a joint statement yesterday after the June 2016 review was released under the Official Information Act.

It suggested treating some Otago patients in Southland to cut wait times, a measure adopted more than a year later, amid strong public concern.

''We agree that in hindsight it would have been valuable to have received this report earlier, to ensure greater visibility in relation to this area of concern.

''This speaks to the importance of developing an internal culture where issues of concern are more readily raised and collaboratively addressed,'' the pair said.

Kathy Grant.
Kathy Grant.
The board took action after an external review of urology this year.

From this month, some Dunedin Hospital catchment patients are being redirected to Southland.

The board is also outsourcing procedures, recruiting staff, and overhauling patient management processes.

The 2016 review was conducted internally at the Ministry of Health's request to examine performance on faster cancer treatment targets.

''Demand exceeded supply at every step of the process for Dunedin patients, leading to longer delays [than in Southland],'' a review briefing paper said.

The review shows the wait for a prostate biopsy in Dunedin in 2015 was 150 days after first specialist assessment; in Southland, the biopsy was done during the first specialist assessment.

Dunedin patients also waited longer for radical prostatectomy - 128 days compared with 78 days in Southland.

''Several inequities in processes and timeframes have been identified between the two sites of Dunedin and Invercargill, in relation to bladder and prostate cancer patients,'' the review said.

The review was reported to the surgery leadership team, faster cancer steering group, Southern Cancer Network and the ministry.

Mr Fleming and Mrs Grant were briefed on its findings this year.

''The report findings were brought forward to the chief executive in April 2017, and noted to the commissioners in May 2017 by which stage the wider urology service review was under way.

''It is clear that some of the issues identified in the systems review were validated in the wider urology review and form the basis for the recommendations we are now actioning,'' Mr Fleming said.

This month the board's top doctor said he fears some men face a shorter life expectancy because of treatment delays.


SDHB should have been told of their shortcomings by an external reviewer say Ms Grant and Mr Fleming. Is there no end to the blame shifting of this pair of "managers"?

SDHB don't do their own performance measurements. SDHB don't know how badly they are servicing clients. The people of the south are being poorly treated and the SDHB don't know about it.

Just when do these two start taking ownership of the problems? Is a few hundred thousand a year each not enough for them to focus on their jobs?
It just seems to me they are out of their depth. If they can't manage the situation now, how could they possibly add a new hospital build to their responsibilities?

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter