Letters on neurosurgery reaching director-general

Director-general of Health Stephen McKernan has been receiving a "small number" of letters about neurosurgery services, his office confirmed this week.

The letters will be passed on to the specialist panel he is convening on the issue "to consider as part of their deliberations".

Southern District Health Board chief executive Brian Rousseau said his office had also received about five letters, supporting the retention of services in Dunedin, including one containing a list of signatures from Waitati.

Some letters which were copies of those being sent to the Government were also being received.

His office would be collecting any letters and forwarding them to Mr McKernan or Minister of Health Tony Ryall later.

The future configuration of neurosurgery services in the South is unclear following the Canterbury and Southern district health boards' inability to agree on where the six neurosurgeons required for a South Island service should reside.

Canterbury wants all six in Christchurch while Southern wants to have two living in Dunedin.

Among Southern concerns are that the-one site model will be less safe than a two-site one because of the distances involved for trauma patients, the two-site model has not been properly explored, its neurologists and general surgeons do not want to be trained to carry out emergency procedures, and it will have damaging flow-on effects to the status of Dunedin Hospital and the University of Otago's Dunedin school of medicine.

elspeth.mclean@odt.co.nz

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