Neurosurgeon hopes languish with delays

Ahmad Taha
Ahmad Taha
Six months after the Southern District Health Board thought it had a person lined up to assist its sole neurosurgeon, an appointment remains unconfirmed.

For at least a year and a-half, Ahmad Taha has been the sole neurosurgeon at Dunedin Hospital, in what is supposed to be a three-person team.

In January, the SDHB said a new surgeon had been appointed, pending clearance from the Medical Council.

That acceptance of the new appointee’s credentials was yet to happen, and Covid-19 had been a major reason why, SDHB recruitment manager Jayne Jepson said.

"There have been some delays due to Covid-19 lockdown in the process of overseas clinicians being registered to work in New Zealand," she said.

"A neurosurgeon has been identified, but we are still awaiting confirmation of his ability to become registered with the New Zealand Medical Council."

Worldwide, neurosurgeons are in short supply, and just 23 are registered in New Zealand.

The SDHB has battled to employ a full team of surgeons ever since the model for providing neurosurgery in the South Island — one service at two sites, in Christchurch and Dunedin — was set up.

Neurosurgery patients have to be transferred to Christchurch for treatment if Mr Taha is off shift or on leave.


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