Southern DHB figures show treatment lag

Figures put out to trumpet the Southern District Health Board's success reveal the extent to which it has slipped behind the rest of the country, Labour health spokesman David Clark says.

David Clark.
David Clark: "Funding formula clearly doesn't work."

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman released a statement entitled: ''Delivering more for the people of Southern DHB'' showing health volumes over the term of the National-led Government.

Except for cataract surgery, the SDHB's increases were markedly lower than the national increases, despite the area's older age profile.

Orthopaedic surgery volumes at the SDHB rose 19% over eight years, but nationally, that figure was 26%.

First specialist assessments (FSA) rose 16%, compared with 37% nationally.

The SDHB outstripped the national increase in cataract surgery with a whopping 65% increase, compared with 29% nationally.

SDHB commissioner Kathy Grant did not respond to a request for comment.

Dr Clark, Dunedin North MP and Labour health spokesman, said the SDHB had ''slipped behind'' other boards.

''The funding formula clearly doesn't work for the South.

Reported difficulties in accessing FSAs was of particular concern.

''Speaking to primary caregivers locally, I know the failure to get FSAs is the top area of concern for them in Dunedin.''

Dr Clark said the health system as a whole was struggling at present because of under-funding.

Patients must be seen by a specialist in order to gain approval for a surgical procedure.

Dr Coleman did not respond directly when asked about the apparent discrepancies, but reiterated that more patients were being treated at the SDHB than in 2008-09.

He also disclosed that orthopaedic FSAs had risen by 20% at the SDHB.

''This lift in rates is a credit to the hardworking health professionals working in Southern DHB, but there's always more to do.

''These results are supported by the $194 million funding increase Southern DHB has received over the last eight years.

''Southern DHB will receive an extra $32 million in new money this year, taking the DHB's total funding to $884 million for 2016-17.''


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