SDHB rep to front dead man's family

Nigel Millar.
Dr Nigel Millar

The Southern District Health Board plans to meet the family of a man who died alone at home after his cardiac operation was postponed for the fourth time because of a bed shortage in Dunedin Hospital's intensive care unit.

SDHB chief operating officer Nigel Millar said he intended to meet the family of Dunedin man Owen Glover (68) ''within the next week or two'' to discuss his case.

''My primary responsibility will be of course to speak to the family, which we are arranging to do.''

Mr Glover's daughter, Donna Ballantyne, told RNZ she had lost all faith in the New Zealand healthcare system when her father died before his surgery last August.

Dunedin MP and Labour health spokesman David Clark said in Parliament yesterday the intensive care bed shortage was so dire the South Island had none on Tuesday afternoon.

He later told the Otago Daily Times clinicians told him the closest bed for critically ill patients in the south was in Wellington.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman could not confirm this claim yesterday.

Last week, the ODT reported on the case of Merv Telfer (79), who had had urgent double-or-more bypass surgery postponed six times.

Yesterday, Mr Telfer's daughter Bridget said her father's surgery was postponed for a seventh time on Monday, and had been contracted by the SDHB to take place at Dunedin's private Mercy Hospital on August 4.

Ms Telfer said she had been told by a source, who did not want to be named, 20 cardiac cases had recently been contracted to Mercy Hospital.

Dr Millar said the hospital would consider undertaking operations elsewhere, and 20 cardiac cases had been conducted at Mercy Hospital in the past financial year.

However, 20 cardiac cases had not been contracted to Mercy Hospital this financial year.

Nine cases had been conducted at Canterbury Hospital in the past financial year, Dr Millar said.

Ms Telfer said while her father was ''relieved'' to be having his urgent operation, he felt for other patients in need of the same care.

''Hopefully he is not jumping the queue. Hopefully all of the people around him on the list are getting seen to.''

She had been contacted by other people also waiting on cardiac operations, who were ''too scared'' to speak out for fear their cases would be bumped ''way down the wait list'', she said.

The shortage of ICU beds, and reports of Mr Glover's death, indicated the dire need for a new hospital, Mr Clark said.

''It highlights that if we had a hospital rebuild start already we would be well on the way to solving this issue and it is intolerable for as long as it continues.''

Mr Clark would meet SDHB executives to discuss the issue later this week.


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