Wronged patient upset by continued delays

Koby Brown
Koby Brown
A man who permanently lost the sight in one eye because of follow-up delays at Southern District Health Board is disappointed many patients are still waiting.

Last week, the Otago Daily Times revealed the board had missed its third deadline for clearing overdue eye follow-up patients. The most urgent "do not delay" patients were still increasing in number, an Official Information Act response revealed.

Big locum clinics had caused a "ballooning" in patient numbers that the service was unable to cope with, OIA  documents show.

Separately, it was revealed last week a further seven patients suffered partial sight loss from treatment delays in 2016-17 on top of at least 23 previous cases.

The board has been unwilling to discuss the problem, and has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Koby Brown, a farm worker, of Mataura, said the board was trying to give the impression it had the situation under control. A couple of years ago, the 23-year-old lost the sight in one eye while being told by hospital staff to be patient. Mr Brown, who still needs checks on his "good eye", insists on no further delays.

"They’ve had a couple of new office staff who have tried to delay my appointment once and I wasn’t having that."

He said the board was not being upfront.

"This is the thing. They don’t want to talk about it, but they need to.

"Whether it’s a money issue, I don’t know, but either way, something needs to happen.

"You can’t hide it forever, it’s going to blow up in your face [again].

"There’s no point apologising to one person if they aren’t going to follow through with what they’ve promised with everybody else," Mr Brown said.

A Dunedin Hospital ophthalmology team member, who declined to be named, was also frustrated.

The person confirmed the department was unable to cope with the increased number of patients admitted in short-burst locum clinics.

Money spent on locums should have been spent differently to strengthen the department, the person said.

The board has publicly referred to the service having an additional ophthalmologist, but the extra staffing was only 0.35 full-time equivalent, the person said.

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