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Southern, like many other DHBs, has had problems finding enough junior doctors to staff hospitals since the implementation of new rosters designed to ensure the doctors worked safer hours.
An SDHB commissioner's meeting, held yesterday, was told a campaign to seek staff in Britain had been agreed to, and a recruiter with experience in finding staff for DHBs had been engaged.
An advertising and social media campaign was about to begin, and SDHB chief medical officer Nigel Millar would be going to England in July to assist, specialist services executive director Patrick Ng said.
At home, the SDHB would examine its methods of recruiting junior doctors, to see where improvements could be made, Mr Ng said.
Dr Millar and SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming both praised the organisation's resident medical officers, saying they had been highly professional during the process of implementing the new rosters.
The meeting also heard a briefing from bowel cancer screening programme clinical lead Jason Hill about the recent roll out of the national programme in the southern region.
It had been a success, "because we spent five years preparing for it," Dr Hill said.
While it was too early to assess response rates to the programme - which is inviting 51,000 eligible 60-to-74-year-olds to be screened for bowel cancer - he was optimistic of bettering the 66% response rate recorded by the Wairarapa DHB.
Dr Hill set out targets for how soon anyone with an abnormal test would be seen for a follow-up, and explained how his team had set up a patient-centred system which had dramatically cut colonoscopy waiting lists.
Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in New Zealand, and the country had one of the highest bowel cancer mortality rates in the OECD.
With the Southern region having one of the highest prevalence rates of bowel cancer in New Zealand, the screening programme was a vital step forward, Dr Hill said.
"Patients have a 95% chance of survival after an early diagnosis but only a 10% chance of survival after a late diagnosis."