Surgery won't be cut, says health board

Last updated 14:50 29/01/2013

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Nelson Marlborough District Health Board chairwoman Jenny Black assured Marlborough people yesterday that the health board review of orthopaedic and general surgery at Blenheim's Wairau Hospital does not include removing those services.

The Marlborough Express reported yesterday that one of the options being considered by the health board under the review was removing orthopaedic and general surgery from the hospital.

This was based on a report in the public agenda paper for the board meeting today.

However, Ms Black was adamant the surgical services would not be removed.

The board's medical surgical directorate had put forward a range of options for staff to comment on, she said.

"The key features the board are looking for in our surgical services for Marlborough are safe, high quality and sustainable surgery.

"The option paper, used to get discussion started, included elective-only surgery at Wairau Hospital through to more resources being made available to these specialties for a sustainable surgical service in Blenheim."

About 2000 elective surgeries were performed at Wairau Hospital each year, Ms Black said.

The review did not include the accident and emergency department, she said.

Hospital staff had until February 28 to comment on options and from that, a proposal would be developed to go before the board by the end of March.

Public and stakeholder consultation would be done during April and May, with a final decision on orthopaedic and general surgery services made in June.

Services in Nelson were not part of the review.

In the report to the health board, acting board chief executive Mike Cummins said any change could take affect from as early as June as the board tries to recover from a $1.2 million deficit reported in December.

Mr Cummins says in the report duplication of surgical services between Wairau and Nelson hospitals and financial pressures were the main drivers of the review.

"The discussion will create a level of concern across the district, particularly in Marlborough."

Mr Cummins' report rules out any suggestions the review is related to "the well publicised issue relating to a general surgeon in Wairau Hospital".

It was about safe care, not saving money, he said. "In fact the final outcome may require significant investment by the board."

Mr Cummins said the review would consider impacts on other services at Wairau Hospital, and private providers.

It would also look at transport and cost implications for patients and their families.

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The board meeting started at 1pm today in Nelson.

- The Marlborough Express

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