What is it like to wait for a Southern DHB surgery?

The Southern District Health Board has been slammed for its poor treatment and care of urology patients in a new report from the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The problems in urology service likely cut the life expectancy of one man who now has secondary cancer.

On Monday the DHB chief executive Chris Fleming told Checkpoint he is proud of the improvements being made.

But there are still of 100 people waiting longer than the recommended Ministry of Health guidelines for their operation with Southern DHB.

What is it like to be in that queue? With no idea when you might get the operation you need?

Eighty-one-year-old Dunedin man Geoff is on the list. He has an enlarged prostate and needs a small surgical procedure to unblock his urethra.

A two to eight-week wait is what he was told to expect. He was told that in July.

Geoff says he cannot remember the last time he was able to urinate without pain or discomfort.

"I'm still waiting. I did ring last week to see how I was going on the waiting list, and they said there's 60 people ahead of me, and I haven't moved because they can't get theatre time to get the list down.

"It hasn't changed much over six years. I'm still waiting."

Geoff says his condition was at its worst when he had to urinate every 20 to 30 minutes, and passing nothing "but just having a wee dribble".

"That went on for about five days and five nights until I collapsed through lack of sleep or something.

"My wife found me lying on the floor. She called the ambulance… They said, 'we'll sort it out for you, don't worry'.

"They sent me home and it's never improved."

Geoff has collapsed several times from pain or exhaustion, while waiting for treatment.

Now he might go as much as an hour without needing to urinate, which he says is "liveable".

"You spend half your time looking for a toilet. Quality of life is not so hot because if you don't get rid of all your urine, you get an infection down there.

"And if you get an infection… You get wee clots, you're peeing out clots and it really makes your eyes water."

Pills help to ease the problem temporarily, but it recurs, Geoff says.

"It's pretty bad. You're bursting to pee and there's a blockage there… And you get a bit of relief but within a few seconds there's another one and you'll get a stream of them, then I suppose you run out of clots there and it stops again for a while, then builds up again.

"And that is not good until you get the antibiotics to stop it. It's pretty painful."

The constant need to use the toilet is also very awkward, he says.

"Enough to be an embarrassment rather than a relief.

"It's a feeling of uselessness, because you can't do anything. We can't go for a holiday because not enough toilets around. We can't travel too far, once again my bladder stops us doing that sort of thing.

"What can I do. All I can do is moan and complain about it, and nobody wants to listen. [It has] driven my wife mad. I just don't know what else you can do."

Southern District Health Board's service has not improved and chief executive Chris Fleming "obviously has rose-tinted glasses," Geoff says.

"Otherwise you wouldn't have a waiting list. To be knocked back every time you go there, it's a bit much.

"You work and you do your best all your working life, and you think you're going to be looked after by society, but you're not are you. You're just left out there.

"I presume at my age they'll be saying 'put him up again, there's a fair chance he'll kick the bucket so we'll be right'.

"Obviously you don't want to be treated like that.

"It is a simple operation I believe. But it is still an operation and we are still waiting."

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