Group wants lab move reviewed

A South Canterbury group remains "very concerned" by community microbiology lab work being sent to Christchurch.

The majority of the South Canterbury District Health Board's (SCDHB) community microbiology lab work is to be sent to Christchurch, a move announced by Southern Community Laboratories chief executive Peter Gootjes in March.

South Canterbury Women's Wellness Centre raised its concerns on the matter this week, backing up comments by Geraldine GP Dr Diana Scott earlier in the year. She believed the move could extend the turnaround time on tests, affect diagnoses and prevent patients being treated in a timely manner.

Alison Gray, on behalf of the South Canterbury Women's Wellness Centre collective, said yesterday those concerns were still real.

"We remain very concerned about the proposed changes to the South Canterbury District Health Board microbiology labs and are monitoring the situation closely," she said. "We trust sound decisions are made for the people of South Canterbury."

She has also questioned how much involvement the SCDHB and its committees had in the original decision-making.

"Women's Wellness wants this matter reopened. We would like an opportunity for the public and GPs of South Canterbury to have input into any changes to the lab test regime."

Gray believed that with a two-month interval before the changes happen, there was still time to "get it right".

Last week it was revealed that Wellington region laboratory testing was also set for a shake-up, with the Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs asking private firms about planning and possibly running a new region-wide scheme.

It was understood the move could include hospital labs, which are run in-house in Hutt Valley and Wellington.

Last year the Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board approved Southern Community Laboratories' decision to reduce lab services at its Medlab South laboratory in Blenheim.

The laboratory was reduced to a morning service closing at 12.30pm.

Two scientists and two technicians were made redundant, while three members of staff had partial redundancies and now work fewer hours as part of the cuts.

The Timaru Herald