Lack of audiologist dubbed 'disappointing'
An Invercargill audiologist says he offered to mentor the man at the centre of a scathing Health and Disabilities Commission report into audiology services at Dunedin Hospital, but the offer was not taken up.
The Southern District Health board and an audiologist, referred to as Mr B, were criticised in the report for breaching the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights, for the provision of testing and diagnostic services to children while the audiologist was employed at Dunedin Hospital between 2000 and 2010.
The report says the health board blamed the issues "principally... because our incumbent audiologist (Mr B) was not a member of, (nor eligible to become a member) of the New Zealand Audiological Society".
To become a member, Mr B required external supervision by a full member of the society.
The report says that did not occur for several reasons, including supervisor availability, cost, and Mr B's personal circumstances.
Invercargill audiologist Gordon Mather, who is not the audiologist referred to in the HDC report, said this week he had offered to mentor Mr B but, for a variety of reasons, the offer was not taken up.
He has also called on the health board to re-establish a resident audiologist at Southland Hospital.
When he was employed at the hospital, fulltime between 1996 and 2000, and part-time between the end of 2000 and 2005, there were more than 100 children identified with hearing impairment and who were being managed by the service, he said. He expected the present figure to be comparable.
It was disappointing the health board did not have a resident audiologist based at Southland Hospital as there was definitely a need for one, he said.
When asked for comment on Mr Mather's offer to mentor Mr B, a Southern District Health Board spokeswoman said the health board did not think it would be appropriate to comment.
However, responding to other questions, health board patient services medical director Richard Bunton said, in an emailed response, several improvements were made to audiology services following a comprehensive review, including the appointment of a district-wide professional leader to oversee audiology services.
Audiology clinics were held fortnightly at Southland Hospital, providing a high-quality service for Southland patients and the health board had been commended for the quality of the audiology service in its last audit, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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