January surgery programme on cards
The Southern District Health Board is considering whether to repeat this year’s push to increase the amount of elective surgery it does.
In January, when operating theatres are generally less used, the SDHB ran an expanded surgical programme to perform more revenue-gaining elective surgery and address waiting lists.
Unexpectedly, the extra surgeries saw extra cancer cases being diagnosed, which led to the radiation oncology waiting list increasing by more than 100 patients – a situation which an SDHB commissioners’ meeting this week was told staff were now prepared for if the exercise was carried out again.
Elective surgery is a revenue earner for the SDHB, which scheduled the extra procedures in January as a way of addressing its $20 million-plus deficit.
The organisation had feared the series of stopworks by resident doctors could wipe out those gains, but specialist services executive director Patrick Ng said by the end of the financial year the SDHB was about 140 case weights over target.
“This is a notable achievement when you consider that over a week of elective activity was lost during the year, comprising of about 300-400 case weights, due to strike activity.”