“Are they waiting for people to die before doing anything?”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Mar 14, 2023 |

A Christchurch woman with a “highly suspicious” lump on her ovaries is frustrated her surgery has been cancelled – two times.

The woman, who didn’t want to be named, said the lump was discovered in October, and was told in January it was possibly malignant and required urgent surgery.

“I have been in a lot of pain and was told that my surgery would be on this week. But then it was cancelled.

Last week she was rushed to hospital in severe pain. “Then I was told I would be having surgery next week.”

But she received a devastating phone call from the hospital on Tuesday.

“They said because they are so short of anaesthetist technicians, that once again my surgery was cancelled and now I will not get a date for another four to six weeks.

“So if my lump is cancer, I have been delayed now for two months and now it’s going to be a further two months before I know for sure.”

The woman, who is a medical expert, said it felt like the hospital was playing “Russian Rolette” with her life.

“First, I’m being told it’s extremely serious, then I’m being told I’m not a priority. But they can’t make that assessment until it’s been removed.”

“Are they waiting for people to die or become terminal before they do anything?”

She’s been told some elective surgeries had been cancelled next week.

Seven anaesthetist technicians resign in past four weeks

Seven anaesthetist technicians resigned in the past four weeks, and there were currently 29 full-time vacancies.

Te Whatu Ora interim Canterbury Hospital & Specialist Services Lead Lisa Blackler said “we acknowledge that there have been significant workforce and culture issues that have affected our AT team.

We take this very seriously and addressing these issues has been a priority for us.”

She said the hospital was delivering 73% of planned care volumes in Canterbury.

All acute surgeries, cancer surgeries and non-deferrable surgeries were still progressing as planned.

She said “we acknowledge that there have been significant national workforce shortages, particularly in the anaesthetic technician space where we have some specific challenges locally.

Anaesthetic technicians from Nelson and Timaru had travelled to Canterbury to assist the hospital, while they continue to recruit with several new staff about to start.

However, it is not just workforce constraints which impact on the delivery of planned care. There are significant pressures on acute care services across the system and this is in line with what is being seen nationally and worldwide in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other factors which impact on our ability to deliver planned care include staff sickness, workforce shortages and high occupancy of our hospitals.”

Blackler said the leadership team was working through scheduling changes to ensure that staff available were matched to an appropriate theatre schedule.

Blackler said “alongside this, a regional approach to pool resources to outsource care, so patients can receive their care in other hospitals, regions or from private providers where possible is underway.

We are also moving teams between sites and utilising private provider’s theatre staff to maximise use of available theatre and workforce capacity.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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