Treatment slow at southern hospitals

19:00, Feb 25 2014

Southern hospitals' waiting times are among the worst in the country, a Ministry of Health report says.

The Health Targets report for July to September 2013, released yesterday, shows the Southern District Health Board failed to achieve three out of seven nationally set service targets

Emergency department wait times, access to elective surgeries and clinical help given to smokers wanting to quit by primary health services, all failed to meet the national target.

But cancer treatment wait times, clinical help for smokers trying to quit while in hospital and access to heart and diabetes checks were marginally higher than the national target.

The district reached the 90 per cent national target for immunisation rates of infants, but decreased by 1.2 per cent compared to the March to June 2013 report.

Southern hospitals' emergency departments ranked 15th nationally with 90 per cent of patients presenting to EDs being seen within the national six-hour target.


However, a report by the Southern District Health Board from September 2013 says the number people reporting to Southland and Dunedin emergency departments was higher than expected and patients had more severe conditions.

"Dunedin reported a busy month with a high number of presentations, including one day with 160 presentations, the highest number ever recorded for the department."

Access to elective surgeries in the Southern district ranked 16th nationally and was slightly below target, achieving 98 per cent of the 4000 patient target it was set.

A Southern DHB monthly report from September also shows the district failed to reach its monthly targets and had patients waiting more than five months for specialist appointments and elective surgeries. Twenty-seven people did not receive planned ear, nose or throat surgeries and eye surgeries were down from 116 planned to 72.

The board also failed to deliver 15 planned general surgeries, six in paediatric surgeries and five vascular surgeries.

Despite the Southern DHB not achieving the elective surgery target, in September 2013, the board reported 2803 acute surgeries, 51 above its monthly target of 2752.

In February 2014, the board reported access to elective surgery had improved and the area was achieving 3.8 per cent over ministry set targets. However, seven of 13 individual department surgery targets were lagging.

The largest variances were in urology which was almost 50 per cent below target with only 36 of 67 planned surgeries performed and general surgery, which was down from 118 planned to 105.

The Southland Times contacted the Southern District Health Board for comment from patient services executive director Lexie O'Shea, but she did not respond before deadline.

The Southland Times