Hiccup for health services review

IAN ALLEN
Last updated 14:57 23/05/2013

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A review of health services across the top of the South Island has taken longer than expected to get started, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming says.

The review had a "false start" when the board's first-choice independent clinician initially agreed to chair the group but later declined, Mr Fleming said.

The clinician already held a senior role with another independent group, outside Nelson Marlborough, and was committed to that work.

The board issued a public notice on May 4 advising that an independent chairperson had been appointed to lead the group. However, the board later said that the contract had not been signed.

"It was a pretty badly kept secret," Mr Fleming said. "However, that person gave us some great advice."

The clinician advised the board to hire three independent clinicians, rather than one, to focus on each area of general surgery, orthopaedics and general medicine, Mr Fleming said. "If we need to look at orthopaedics, then we should have an independent clinician who is an orthopaedic surgeon. So that's what we are aiming for and one of those three will lead the overall group.

"That's not to say other services are not important but if you focus on those three, they are at the heart of secondary services within the hospital. If you solve how those services are going to operate across two sites, you will have to address other areas like anaesthetics, obstetrics and gynae ser vices."

Mr Fleming said he had identified a potential chairperson and was meeting that person next week. "I don't want to announce [the chair] until that is done to ensure that person is comfortable on how to move forward, how to engage with the services and the wider community."

After a public outcry, the board promised in March to keep round-the-clock surgical services at Wairau Hospital and carry out a top-of-the-south service review.

Mr Fleming said the delay in starting the review would mean a better outcome for health services in the region. "It is better to have people who understand the services at the centre of the review, who can challenge how we are operating."

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- The Marlborough Express

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