Radiology scan targets below par

Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012

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Taranaki's radiology services are underperforming in almost every area for scan targets.

The documents detailing the substandard results also show Taranaki DHB to be the worst performing for the Midlands area.

Radiology services in Taranaki are carried out by Fulford Radiology Services Limited (FRSL) under a partnership that means the Taranaki DHB has a 50 per cent share.

Taranaki District Health Board member and chairwoman of the Fulford Radiology Services committee Flora Gilkison says the performance figures aren't acceptable but moves have been made to reach the desired targets.

The target for all scans, both community referred and community and outpatient referrals, is 75 per cent.

In the case of community referred CT scans where 75 per cent are targeted to be met within six weeks, Taranaki is only reaching 40 per cent.

Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Waikato and Tairawhiti DHBs are all either meeting the target or well above it.

Taranaki is also below par for community referred US scans targeted for six weeks.

Fulford Radiology is only meeting 50 per cent of its referrals while the other DHBs are all 60 per cent or more.

These results are all for the three-month period between July and September this year.

It's not only targets that are a concern for the board but costs and recruitment in the radiology department are also causing headaches.

In a report to the board yesterday management accountant Katherine Fraser-Chapple said the volume of radiology exams increases annually and efforts are made for budgets and projections but they don't always pan out.

"Unfortunately increased patient demand for example in early 2012 where elective surgery volumes were increased short term, can quickly erode our planning," she said.

In the last 12 months interventional radiology has not been able to be provided by FRSL and the Taranaki DHB has had to source an alternate provider for this service outside the region.

"The cost of this has been significantly higher than if the service had continued to be provided locally.

"There does not seem to be any immediate solution to this problem, however we continue to work with FRSL to progress this," she said.

Board member Kura Denness said the underperformance of FRSL at every level is unacceptable.

"I would hope the cost of this contract with Fulford has been subsidised accordingly because we're having to outsource services they can't provide," she said.

There was also concern from board members that vacancies, such as the interventional radiologist have gone unfilled for nearly two years.

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"The board needs to be aware of this and kept up to date," board member Pauline Lockett said.

According to the TDHB board chairwoman Mary Bourke this is only one of many vacancies that has remained open for more than a year.

- Taranaki Daily News

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