A paediatric orthopaedic patient waiting more than 520 days for an appointment with a Southern District Health Board (SDHB) specialist is completely unacceptable, MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says.
“Children’s bodies are developing and constantly changing, so to have a child waiting nearly 18 months to see a specialist is deeply concerning,” Mr Mooney says.
“This shouldn’t be how we treat our young people in this region.”
In a response to a Parliamentary Written Question, Minister of Health Andrew Little advised Mr Mooney that as at August 16 2021, there were 122 patients under-16 waiting for a first appointment to see a SDHB orthopaedic specialist.
Of those on the waitlist, one patient had been waiting 521 days.
“The Southern DHB website lists 18 orthopaedic surgeons working at either Southland or Dunedin hospitals.”
“We have seen the issues they have had keeping up with adult orthopaedic lists, the question now must be asked – how much of an effect has this had on children’s orthopaedic services?”
“If paediatric orthopaedic issues in children are not addressed it can leave them with problems that they must face their entire adult lives.”
“We need to do everything we can to avoid that from happening.”
“The positive flow on effect of early treatment is that these patients will require less specialist orthopaedic care in the future.”
Mr Mooney says that the Ministry of Health and the SDHB must improve their oversight of paediatric orthopaedic surgery waiting lists in the south to ensure appropriate resourcing is available to avoid more young people facing unacceptable wait times.
“The orthopaedic surgeons can only do so much and the last thing they would want is being in a position where they cannot assist patients whose problems, if not treated now, could cause life-long issues.”
“SDHB management are being forced to move from crisis to crisis without addressing some of the critical health needs of the Southern population.”
Mooney has been vocal on a number of healthcare issues in Otago and Southland and has lobbied for marked improvements in areas such as cancer treatment and maternity services.
The MP says the Minister of Health’s oversight of health services in the region hasn’t been up to scratch and it is having a disturbing effect on the lives of his constituents.
“Labour did away with National Health Targets which took away accountability and reporting on performance.”
“The result has been patients being left behind. Information is power, and you can’t improve what you don’t track and measure.”
Mooney says the proposed restructure of the New Zealand health system by the Government could make more patients vulnerable as putting almost $500 million into paying bureaucrats to create what could be another flawed system won’t result in more hospital beds, more health staff, and an expansion of services in key areas.
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