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"Southern Health Bosses Need To Pull Fingers Out Over Dunedin Hospital Emergency Department"

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"Health bosses at the Southern District Health Board need to pull their fingers out over waiting times at Dunedin Hospital's emergency department," said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

"In 2009 the government announced a target of a maximum of six hours for patients in emergency departments. This target was based on the advice of expert emergency medicine specialists. Specialists at Dunedin Hospital's emergency department have been actively urging ever since for their Chief Executive Brian Rousseau to start planning for it. Unfortunately he was fixated on the unsubstantiated opinion that the problem was patients turning up who didn't need to be seen. He believed he knew more than the clinical experts and ignored them."

"But the problem was transferring patients into the main hospital. It was a 'whole-of-hospital' problem, not the front door of the emergency department. Unsurprisingly Dunedin Hospital's performance on meeting this target has been abysmal compared with other hospitals."

"An investigation organised by the Ministry of Health has just confirmed the practical steps that need to be taken. Their report (called a simulation exercise) confirms what the hospital's emergency senior doctors have been saying for some time - more medical staff, a short stay unit, and a specialty assessment unit would overcome the huge bottleneck between the emergency department and the rest of the hospital."

"Health bosses should have acted on the clinical advice when it was given, should not have treated emergency medicine specialists with disdain (and at times engaged in harassment), and not have waited until the political blow torch was pointed at them before acting." "The recommendation needs to be acted on now. No more procrastination" concluded Mr Powell.

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