Confidence will return - DHB boss

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 09:51 17/06/2014

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The investigation of a former Wairau Hospital surgeon following fatal surgeries at the hospital knocked public confidence, a report into surgical services says.

But Nelson Marlborough's health boss Chris Fleming believes a review of general medicine and general and orthopaedic surgery at Nelson and Wairau hospitals will help restore trust.

General surgeon Michael Parry stepped down from his post at the hospital in May last year after the death of Jim Nicholls, 81, during surgery to repair a hernia and remove his gall bladder in May 2012.

Rachel Riddell, 31, died of blood loss in January 2011 after Parry removed her gall bladder.

Grovetown woman Annette Woolley, 75, died as a result of complications following surgery.

The top of the south review had been instigated by the board, in part due to quality and safety concerns raised by the Parry case, difficulties with recruitment and retention of general surgeons and prolonged reliance on locums.

General surgery staff told the review authors there had been a public loss of confidence in Wairau Hospital.

The review said it would take considerable time to restore community confidence and staff morale at Wairau.

The bad publicity required a strong public board commitment to quality and safety of service at Wairau Hospital, the report says.

Fleming, the chief executive of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, said the Parry case had affected confidence.

The board has nine fulltime general surgeons. The Wairau service consists of one fulltime general surgeon, assisted by successive locums. There is one vacancy for a general surgeon.

"In general surgery there have been high-profile issues and challenges in the media that has had an impact [on confidence]," Fleming said. "We are committed to resolving that and moving a culture forward and creating a team that reduces the reliance on locums. It is not healthy to have a constant reliance on locums if we can help it."

He said the review would help restore public confidence and assist the recruitment of staff.

Assistant medical officer David Bond said there had been "a hit" on community confidence in general surgery at Wairau but clinicians on both sides of the hill were "nailing quality and safety" to improve clinical and community confidence.

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- The Marlborough Express

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