'Pathways' cut risk at hospital

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013

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Changes made at Hawera Hospital have significantly reduced the clinical risk of medical services, according to a new report.

In 2011, issues were raised about the clinical safety of some medical services at Hawera Hospital and the Taranaki District Health Board has been working to cut the risks.

Taranaki DHB member Alex Ballantyne said there used to be a risk to patients in Hawera, but that has been dealt with after pathways were introduced, which ensure people are treated properly.

"Medical professionals have to follow these pathways, which are like a checklist, so someone from Okaiawa gets the same treatment as someone who lives next to the Base Hospital."

A major improvement was the Hawera Hospital Community Committee, chaired by South Taranaki mayor Ross Dunlop, Mr Ballantyne said. "It's a good vehicle for any concerns that do come up. They don't fester away. They can be dealt with."

Anyone with an issue can go along and an explanation has to be provided. "A lot of people have no idea of what is being done and if they are concerned they can go to that committee."

Taranaki DHB chairwoman Pauline Lockett said the report was very positive for Hawera.

One of the biggest issues was that the Taranaki DHB lost the trust of people in South Taranaki three years ago, she said.

"This report is very significant in rebuilding that trust."

TDHB chief medical adviser Dr Greg Simmons said strategies had been put in place to reduce clinical risks.

Taranaki Base emergency department doctors were working shifts at the Hawera ED and vice versa. "A doctor has been appointed at Hawera Hospital with a view to strengthen clinical leadership and to enhance the focus on quality and safety in health care delivery."

There was an increased number of permanent medical staff or those on long-term contracts, rather than the previous reliance on short-term locums, which was improving the continuity of care, he said.

And Hawera Hospital was now an approved rural hospital medicine training site and in the future the hospital may have its own rural hospital medicine department, Dr Simmons said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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