838 women on hospital waiting list

More than 800 Southland women have been languishing on their hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology waiting list, 20 of them for more than a year.

Of the 838 women on the list, 31 are classed as urgent and are primarily cancer patients. Six have waited more than two months and two have endured an uncertain six months or more on the waiting list.

The Southern District Health Board flagged issues with the service several months ago, mostly due to problems hiring sufficient staff and/or locums to handle the number of cases.

In a briefing to be considered by the board’s hospital advisory committee on Tuesday, acting chief operating officer Hamish Brown said senior medical staff numbers had experienced "significant flux" over the past two years.

"During this period, at its worst point, the service had 1.8 full-time equivalents [FTEs] out of the establishment of five FTE," Mr Brown said.

"The service now holds only a 0.5 FTE vacancy, which is a significant improvement. However, this allows for the maintenance of waiting lists as opposed to improvement."

Urgent cases such as suspected cancer and acute patients were given priority over semi-urgent patients such as those with uncontrolled bleeding ovarian cysts.

That meant outpatient clinics and "routine" patients with complaints such as endometriosis, painful periods or asymptomatic prolapses might have an extended wait to be seen, Mr Brown said.

"Outpatient waiting times for non-urgent gynaecology have been extending through this period and particularly through the last quarter of 2021, where a number of delays in recruitment and significant unanticipated vacancies reduced the service to the provision of core activity only.

"Locums were sought during this period. However, Covid in Auckland and the more general travel restrictions limited their availability."

Mr Brown estimated that if all initiatives proposed to tackle the backlog of patients were successfully introduced, it would take at least a year to bring the waiting list under control.

The service was already recruiting for known vacancies such as a pending maternity leave absence and a 12-month Ministry of Health-funded locum role specifically intended to address the waiting list, he said.

The service also intended to institute a six-week roster for senior medical officers to improve clinic planning, outsource some colposcopy work and enlist further help from primary care.

It would also review administration processes to ensure the most serious cases were being seen first, Mr Brown said.

Comments

#ChurArdern
Sat back on your ass lapping up the praise and didn't look after the core business..
You also failed to deliver on a substantial increase if hospital space..
You are as much use as Lee Vandervis..

 

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