Majority of SDHB elective surgery restarts

Specialist services executive director Patrick Ng. Photo: ODT files
Patrick Ng. Photo: ODT files
Most elective surgery has resumed at the Southern District Health Board’s main hospitals, but some restrictions remain for orthopaedic surgery.

Just before Christmas the SDHB postponed all deferrable elective surgery after unprecedented demand in southern emergency departments caused bed block in hospitals.

More procedures were called off at the start of this year as the chronic bed block persisted, a situation exacerbated by staff shortages in some departments.

However, things were beginning to return to normal at Dunedin Hospital, SDHB specialist services executive director Patrick Ng said.

"Elective surgery bookings have started to return to normal levels ... an exception to this is elective orthopaedic surgery, where a number of nursing vacancies on the orthopaedic ward means that we are not able to staff the ward at the level we normally would."

Those vacancies had now been filled, primarily with graduate nurses, but the SDHB planned to book fewer orthopaedic procedures than usual for the rest of the month as those nurses would not start work until early February.

"We know the postponement of a surgery can have a huge impact on patients and their families, and we appreciate how incredibly understanding they have been," Mr Ng said.

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