New Gastroenterology Department open

Southern DHB’s new Gastroenterology Department will transform the experience for patients and staff.

The $3.2 million unit, on the 8th floor of Dunedin Hospital, is now open.

The timing of the unit’s opening dovetails with the rollout of the National Bowel Screening Programme in the Southern district.


The expanded facility gives the Southern DHB the capacity to carry out the additional 300-350 colonoscopies in 2018 as part of the programme.

SDHB Commissioner Kathy Grant paid tribute to the Gastroenterology staff who have maintained high standards of care in challenging conditions while the new unit was developed.

“Our dedicated staff have gone above and beyond and what they have achieved is a tribute to their professionalism.

“We now have a fit-for-purpose purpose Gastroenterology and endoscopy service which applies best practice and international standards for both patients and staff.”

The new unit adds a second endoscopy suite and includes room for a third.

It has a gastrointestinal treatment room, separate admission and discharge rooms, and a 10-bed, 7-seat recovery area.


Gastroenterology Clinical Director, Jason Hill, said the Gastroenterology team was closely involved in the design of the new department.

“It’s quieter and there’s lots of natural light, particularly in patient areas and in areas where staff are spending a lot of time.

“What is particularly pleasing is there will be separation of pre and post procedure patients. There will also be separation between in-patients and out-patients which is the first time we’ve been able to do that.

“We’ve worked very hard on issues such as privacy and dignity and having a state-of-the-art facility allows us to do that properly.”

The expanded unit will mean more timely interventions for inpatients and the flexibility to ensure waiting times for outpatients can be maintained.

Teaching is a key focus of the department and having the second endoscopy suite means teaching sessions can be scheduled without impacting on the service.


Dr Hill said a lot of thought had gone into how patients experience the unit and their feedback would be collected electronically, both before and after their procedure, to drive future improvements.

The Gastroenterology unit is part of a multi-million programme of urgent facility upgrades which also includes the completed audiology unit at Wakari and the Intensive Care Unit redevelopment underway at Dunedin Hospital.

At present the Gastroenterology unit does up to 2700 ‘‘mixed procedures'' each year - mostly endoscopy, as well as liver ultrasounds and liver biopsies. It has five Gastroenterologists (some part-time), eight endoscopists, and a team of nursing staff.

The new Gastroenterology facility is one of the interim redevelopment projects being undertaken by Southern DHB to best meet the needs of staff, patients and their families while Dunedin’s new hospital is developed.