Praise for health board's efforts

Information on plans designed to improve Southern District Health Board performance was praised by board member Dr Malcolm Macpherson yesterday, but he warned of the need for consistency.

Speaking at the hospitals' advisory committee meeting in Dunedin, he said it was useful to see the detail of what was occurring and "how much of the organisation is being touched".

Dr Macpherson has previously questioned the cohesion of quality improvement measures and been concerned that the board was paying lip service to lean-thinking methods. Yesterday, he said it was right to promote consistent improvement with small changes rather than a "big bang" approach which would be ambitious "beyond reality".

Consistency could ebb and flow and it was necessary to "keep all shoulders to the various grindstones".

Transformational change would happen in due course, but "it won't be overnight".

Committee chairman Paul Menzies suggested a subcommittee or smaller group could play a useful role in this area.

Chief operating officer (Otago) Vivian Blake reported to the meeting on the organisation-wide systems approach being taken to address the length of time patients are spending in Dunedin Hospital's emergency department under the banner "6 Hours It Matters!".

It was considered that improvements would result, but it was not realistic to believe the board could achieve the national target by June 30, she said.

The target requires 95% of patients to be seen treated and discharged or transferred to a ward within six hours of their arrival at the department.

In December, only 69.44% of Dunedin patients' visits came within this time.

At Southland Hospital, chief operating officer (Southland) Lexie O'Shea said there was steady movement towards meeting the target, with 89.35% of patients meeting the time in December.

 

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