Health board to consider review

22:28, May 26 2014
Chris Fleming
SURGICAL REVIEW: NMDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said the top of the south service review of surgical services in Nelson and Marlborough would spark an evolution of services, rather than the predicted revolution.

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board will discuss today the recommendations of a long-awaited review of surgical services across the region.

At the board's monthly meeting in Wairau Hospital, board members will have a first glance of recommendations by independent clinicians of the region's general surgery, orthopaedics and general medicine.

The board meeting is open to the public but their discussions of the review will be held in private.

The top of the south service review centred on the fundamental principle of one service two sites, and the board's commitment to 24/7 acute and elective surgery in both Nelson and Wairau.

Amongst its scope was the future delivery of general surgical services and the appropriate scope of general surgery able to be provided at Wairau Hospital.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill said he would be asking to see the contents of the review.


It follows his investigation into surgeon Michael Parry following the death of Annette Woolley, 75, as a result of complications after surgery at Wairau Hospital. Hill concluded Parry and the district health board had met acceptable standards.

However, the report raised concerns if Wairau Hospital was an appropriate location for major bowel surgery because it didn't have an intensive care unit.

Board chief executive Chris Fleming said the review had broad support clinically and support from the reference group of Nelson and Marlborough clinicians and community representatives.

The top of the south service review was prompted following public outcry to board plans to review general and orthopaedic surgery services at Wairau Hospital in Blenheim.

Save Our Services campaign in Blenheim held a highly charged public meeting and sent a petition to Health Minister Tony Ryall.

Bowing to community concern, the district health board promised not to cut round-the-clock acute services at Wairau, and also to set up the top of the south service review to help find solutions to the region's service provision.

Fleming said the board's initial review of surgical services at Wairau Hospital had caused community concern.

"The document released to staff in late 2012 sparked fears from within staff and the Wairau community that the board was about to close, or significantly reduce, surgical services at Wairau Hospital," Fleming said.

"The challenges that gave rise to this document still exist, and it is extremely difficult to ensure sustainable high quality acute services are available at both locations. Rather than the fears of a revolution which was sparked in late 2012, the revised document is very much centred around evolution of services. Revolutions can occur rapidly and overnight, whereas evolution takes time."

Some of the recommendations of the review would be acted on immediately and others would take years to embed, Fleming said.

Once the draft report is considered by board members, public meetings will be held to discuss the contents of the review.

The Marlborough Express