DHB may have to turn away patients

MidCentral District Health Board may have to turn away orthopaedic patients until it gets through its backlog.

"Significant concern" was raised about the waiting list for orthopaedic services - musculoskeletal treatment - and the financial penalty that could come with it, in a report to the Hospital Advisory Committee meeting this week.

"Given the number of patients already given certainty of treatment within five months . . . it is now unlikely that a number of those patients will receive their treatment within that timeframe," the report said. "On that basis MidCentral cannot continue to give certainty of treatment to additional patients until those patients that have already been promised surgery within five months receive their treatment."

In October, there were 306 patients waiting for treatment. Thirty-six have been waiting more than four months, and 11 more than five months.

During the same month, 36 patients were declined their first specialist appointment and sent back to their GP - an action taken to reduce capacity restrictions.

MidCentral District Health Board member Barbara Robson said it was disappointing some people's need for treatment will not be met within the expected timeframe.

"Their debilitation continues for a longer period of time, and from a consumer perspective that doesn't mean to say their need goes away - their ongoing need continues and that is truly regrettable," she said. "They won't be accepted because there is no capacity within the service to treat them within five months, but that doesn't mean their pain will go away."

MidCentral District Health Board has been unsuccessful in finding additional orthopaedic senior medical officers within New Zealand or internationally. A temporary staff member has been assigned from February 2014, and the health board is seeking additional temporary staff over Christmas.

"It looks as if they are trying to do everything possible; there are evening lists and weekend lists," Ms Robson said. "I fully support them, we've got to try to ensure we meet the need as best we can."

Manawatu Standard