A project team to address a backlog of patients in Southern DHB’s urology service has agreed on immediate actions to improve care provided by this service.

Southern DHB Chief Executive Chris Fleming said the project team has been developing an action plan in parallel with acting on immediate priorities “that couldn’t wait until a plan was developed”.

Steps that have been agreed so far include:

  • An additional clinical nurse specialist is being recruited for Dunedin Hospital
  • A district-wide approach is being taken to ensure approximately 100 patients requiring prostate biopsies will be seen promptly. This means patients in South Otago and parts of Central Otago will be invited to appointments in Southland Hospital
  • Locum consultants are being sought to cover annual leave; no decision has yet been made on the appointment of an additional permanent urologist
  • Patients requiring radical prostatectomy who were identified as having waited too long have now received their surgeries. There is now just one outstanding case, which was rescheduled for clinical reasons
  • All outstanding cases (where wait times exceed service expectations) are being reviewed, with appointments, procedures and surgeries being offered to those with greatest clinical need.

In addition, actions to address further recommendations in an external review of the service are being developed. These include reviewing options for improving patient management processes, implementing new infection control measures to enable more efficient diagnostics, upgrading and reconfiguring the physical facilities and improving referral processes from primary care.

Fleming acknowledged the concentrated effort of the project team, who have worked collaboratively to respond to the reviewers’ recommendations and address the challenges in the service.

“A team approach has been required to ensure we provide the service our community expects. I appreciate the hard work that has taken place and the commitment that has been demonstrated to ensuring our patients receive the care they need.”