No start date for ICU work

No start date has been fixed yet to refurbish Dunedin Hospital's intensive care unit, but the director of surgery says he is pressing for action.

In a blow to Dunedin's reputation as a teaching hospital, the College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand withdrew the unit's training accreditation, and last month turned down an appeal against the decision.

The unit could no longer train intensive care specialists, apart from those already signed up.

The problem could affect other specialties' registrars too.

The main issue was the state of the unit which the college reportedly called dated.

The unit also lacked a college-qualified clinical leader, which was being addressed.

Last month, director of surgery Murray Fosbender said he hoped a refurbishment worth nearly $2 million would start by the middle of this year or sooner.

Yesterday, Mr Fosbender said he had asked internally ''when are we moving'' on the upgrade.

''As you know, we're cash-strapped, and we've got a lot of things we need doing, but in terms of priorities the surgical group are pushing this as a top priority.

''[The board] have multiple issues to deal with. It doesn't so much get lost, but it sort of gets parked.

''I'm confident that we will move and see a physical change [to the unit] before the end of the financial year.''

Mr Fosbender said he was still in talks with other specialty colleges, including emergency medicine, which were unhappy about the lack of a training certified ICU.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said doctors felt pessimistic about the upgrade, as the health board had a history of deferring promised upgrades.

The board professed surprise at the accreditation loss, but it would have been well signalled with warnings from the professional college, Mr Powell said.

''Dunedin is a teaching hospital of high repute; it is just implausible that you can both maintain a status as a high quality teaching hospital, and not have [a training] accredited intensive care unit.''

The Otago Daily Times has asked for a copy of the college report under the Official Information Act.

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