'Painful wait' for surgery

02:38, Jun 12 2014

Surgeons and senior hospital staff have pleaded with the Waikato District Health board to approve a fifth acute operating theatre.

Waikato Hospital Theatre and Preoperative Services clinical leader Dr Cam Buchanan said the move would be a "no brainer", particularly in relation to the hundreds of patients desperately waiting for orthopaedic surgery.

"The message I want you to hear is that the [number of patients needing surgery] is inadequate, the fact you don't have the fifth acute theatre ultimately means patients suffer and we lurch between just managing to managing chaos," he told the health board.

A hospital report presented to the board last month shows 1580 people are waiting for orthopaedic surgery in Waikato - 170 of them have waited longer than five months.

Buchanan wanted the board to not underestimate the importance of making the patients experience quality. "The experience of the patient journey has to be up there with the quality of the actual surgery. It comes down to empathy and appointing the right people. The cold face of medicine is [a] human face."

The report outlined targets including a change to the reporting methods used to ensure patient safety.


The new surgical safety checklist released by the World Health Organisation had proved a challenge for Waikato surgeons and nurses with figures as low as 42.5 per cent in April . But a focus to improve that figure had seen it rise to 65 per cent in just two months.

Buchanan said making patients wait in pain was detrimental to them, the clinical staff and ultimately to the hospital governance.

Waikato Hospital group manager Mark Spittal urged the board to approve the proposal, which he said would better utilise the redeveloped Meade Clinical Centre and address the increased demand.

After a presentation from Waikato Hospital assistant group manager Kevin Harris, the board looked at the new waiting rooms, preoperative wards and operation theatres.

Buchanan showed the board what a typical patient's journey from before, during and after surgery might look like.

However, discussions after the tour by the board still remained focused on whether a fifth acute operating theatre would be economically viable.

The board appeared sympathetic to the idea of creating another theatre but reluctant because of staffing concerns.

Buchanan said staff were available but it could take about 12 months to appoint the "right person".

The proposal will be discussed when the board meets again on August 13.

Waikato Times