Outsourcing surgery to cost CDHB $150m

17:58, Feb 10 2013
Carolyn Gullery
Carolyn Gullery

Outsourcing surgery to make up for a post-earthquake loss of capacity and hospital beds will cost the region's health system more than $150 million.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is spending millions of dollars outsourcing routine surgery to the city's private hospitals to keep up with Government-set health targets.

A loss of surgical beds and capacity at quake-hit Christchurch Hospital means the board will continue to fork out millions until the planned redevelopment of the hospital goes ahead - a project that will not be complete until at least 2018.

On top of the cost of outsourcing to both St George's and Southern Cross hospitals, CDHB also has to pay board-employed medical staff additional allowances for working in private facilities.

CDHB planning and funding manager Carolyn Gullery said surgeons and anaesthetists received an extra $100 per surgical session per formed in non-DHB locations.

From March 2011 to the end of last month, more than 4000 public health patients underwent surgery in a private facility.


Gullery said there would not be new surgical capacity at Christchurch Hospital until at least 2018.

"We're really short on capacity . . . [we're spending] about three times more than what we were spending in 2009 and it's putting pressure on the rest on the system," she said.

"It's either spend the money or not deliver the volume of surgery we need to."

Money aside, the board was running ahead of its surgical target and "working hard to reduce waiting times".

In the 2009-10 financial year the board spent $10m outsourcing surgery and in the 2011-12 year about $23m was spent. Gullery said the projection for the 2012-13 year was about $30m and that level of cost would probably continue until the new hospital was built.

In the board's recent hospital advisory committee meeting agenda, it said the additional payments to senior medical officers had "not been budgeted in the division in this financial year" and was among the reasons employee costs would remain "un favourable" for the year.

In July last year Southern Cross said it would build two new operating theatres at its Bealey Ave site, one of which would be dedicated to surgery for public-funded patients.

Gullery said the board had now entered into a three-year lease agreement with Southern Cross and would probably have to look at extending the lease on the operating theatre.

The Press