Some prostate patients to be sent to Southland

Chris Fleming.
Chris Fleming.
One hundred men are waiting for prostate biopsies at the stressed Dunedin Hospital urology department, and some of them will be sent to Southland Hospital, it has been confirmed.

The Southern District Health Board said yesterday South Otago and some Central Otago patients requiring biopsies would receive them in Invercargill. Those areas fall in Dunedin Hospital’s catchment. Last month, an external review found some urology patients were at significant clinical risk.  Patients had waited up to three years for follow-up appointments, cancer patients more than six months for surgery, and surveillance cystoscopy cases were up to a year overdue.

The Dunedin department had just one dedicated nurse, and decision-making was slow. The board said yesterday it was recruiting an extra nurse, but had made no decision yet on recruiting another urologist. The hospital’s three urologists have been in conflict with management over the need for an extra specialist. The report said more work was needed to determine if it was warranted. Locum urologists would be sought to cover annual leave, chief executive Chris Fleming said.

Of eight patients who had been overdue for prostate cancer surgery, all but one had had their procedure.

"Patients requiring radical prostatectomy who were identified as having waited too long have now received their surgeries.

"There is now just one outstanding case, which was rescheduled for clinical reasons.

"All outstanding cases, where wait times exceed service expectations, are being reviewed, with appointments, procedures and surgeries being offered to those with greatest clinical need," Mr Fleming said.

Dunedin man Ewen Kerstens was unimpressed by the steps taken, and said he paid for his own prostate biopsy because the wait was too long.

Mr Kerstens said the health system was being quietly privatised as patients gave up on the public  hospital and paid for their own care. He said he should be reimbursed for the $1100 he spent on the biopsy. Fortunately, his biopsy was clear. 

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