Consultation urged on surgery plan

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 15:36 25/01/2013
Wairau Hospital
Emma Allen

Wairau Hospital

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Grey Power president Colin Draper says the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board should consult the community about possible changes to surgery offered at Wairau Hospital.

Before the board considered any options, it should hold a public meeting in Marlborough, Mr Draper said.

It was normal business for the board to talk about which surgical services were offered and where, but any decisions should be run past the community, he said.

"I believe with the demographics of the area it is important to get this out in the open a bit more."

New Zealand census statistics show that in 2006, 16.2 per cent of Marlborough people were aged 65-plus compared with 12.3 per cent nationally.

Mr Draper said for Marlborough people aged 60-plus requiring surgery, travelling out of the district for treatment and follow-up appointments could be difficult.

If anything, services lost to Marlborough should be returned, Mr Draper said. For example, in September last year he was told to expect a nine-month wait after being referred for an MRI scan in Nelson, once available in Blenheim. This could delay an operation on his knee surgery until the end of the year.

"Meanwhile, I'm moving about using crutches and a stick because my knee keeps failing," he said.

In September 2012, The Marlborough Express reported the Nelson-Marlborough MRI service was at full capacity with nearly 150 people having to wait longer than the ministry's target of providing scans within 42 days of referral.

Mr Draper said he looked forward to having the surgery at Wairau because the hospital was close to home and during an earlier stay, "the surgeon and staff looked after me particularly well". An earlier hip operation in Nelson was "less than ideal" because of the painful travel involved.

Board spokeswoman Katherine Rock confirmed that a second-hand MRI scanner at Wairau in the late 1990s, was bought by the Marlborough Equipment Trust.

However, within a year, the images deteriorated and the scanner was retired. The MRI scanner in Nelson was installed in 2007.

Last week, board executive leadership team member and Blenheim GP Ros Gellatly told The Marlborough Express investigations into patient deaths following surgery at Wairau Hospital and tight finances triggered a review into surgery offered there.

Board member Gerald Hope said proposed changes would be run past the board which might request community consultation.

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- The Marlborough Express

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