Most DHB lab work heads to Chch

The majority of South Canterbury District Health Board's community microbiology lab work is to be sent to Christchurch.

Southern Community Laboratories chief executive Peter Gootjes confirmed the move yesterday, despite concerns by some industry experts.

Geraldine GP Dr Diana Scott was one of the first to raise concerns, as she believed the move could extend the turnaround time on tests. In many cases there would be a 72-hour turnaround before test results were received by South Canterbury GPs, she said.

Dr Scott believed the move was a cost-cutting measure that would ultimately affect the quality of care patients received.

Dr Gootjes acknowledge that some GPs in Timaru had "concerns about the change to our service and we have communicated directly with GPs to reassure them the changes will not compromise the quality of work we deliver." .

Timaru will retain the "more technically challenging" work.

"This will ensure we can retain the talented and highly skilled staff we have working for us at Timaru Hospital."

No staff would be be made "fully" redundant by the changes, only because some had volunteered to reduce their working hours, he said.

"We have been liaising with staff for the past few weeks to ensure they could fully participate in the consultation process.

"The impetus for the proposal for change was to ensure we could deliver our services in a financially viable way, without adversely impacting on patient and clinical outcomes or turnaround times for lab tests.

"Centralisation of services to a few larger laboratories, which is a worldwide trend, allows us to afford new technologies that previously would be unaffordable.

"So the bottom line is the changes will ultimately mean a better range of tests and technologies will become available to South Canterbury clinicians, which will greatly benefit their patients."

Changes will be effected in about two months.

The Timaru Herald