Man with broken foot still waiting for surgery 12 days after fall

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Mar 22, 2023 |

Photo: Supplied

A Christchurch man is facing long delays in receiving surgery for his broken foot, as Christchurch hospital faces a shortfall of 30 full-time anaesthetic technicians.

Aaron Collins broke his left foot after falling on rocks at Hokitika beach 12 days ago and was taken by ambulance to Greymouth hospital.

He spent a few days there before being transferred to Christchurch hospital.

Since then, he has been waiting for surgery, enduring “nil by mouth” every day as he expects to go into surgery.

Despite being promised surgery, Aaron’s operation has been cancelled every day at the last minute, leaving him frustrated and feeling ignored.

“I had a go at them, so during the second week, they have started letting me know just in time to get some tea,” he said.

The past two days he’s been told of the cancellations just after lunchtime.

And just today [Thusday] he was told the hospital was hoping to get his surgery done tomorrow.

“I am on my 12th day in the hospital and have watched people come and go in my room and get their surgeries. I still haven’t seen my surgeon the whole time I’ve been here, which I find to be very bad.”

Aaron said “they haven’t told me why I keep getting pushed back, I just get told they’re understaffed.

The nurses have been great, but yes, it’s frustrating especially the first week. I was hungry and dry and just needed a drink of water but couldn’t.” Aaron said.

The wife of another Christchurch hospital patient told Chris Lynch Media, her husband broke his leg on Saturday, but was still to have surgery.

Meanwhile, Christchurch colorectal surgeon Chris Wakeman told Newstalk ZB the hospital was now allowing locum anaesthetic technicians.

“But that’s not going to fix the problem, because we’re 30 full-time anaesthetic technicians down.”

Wakeman revealed the hospital had decreased the planned surgical schedule from the start of this week.

“Previously you would just turn up to work and you were never sure if surgery was going to be cancelled or not, so they have decided to give us some certainty.”

However, the situation is dire for patients who need non-cancer operations.

From a colorectal surgery perspective, Wakeman said they were only able to work on cancer patients due to the shortage of anaesthetic technicians.

“One of my colleagues was in tears because her patient is incontinent due to childbirth injuries but she can’t provide any surgery. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for those patients with non-cancer operations,” he said.

Wakeman said one of his patients was going to lose their job because they can’t get an operation because it is not cancer-related.

He added that referring patients to other regions is much more complicated, but he was forced to refer a patient to Auckland hospital yesterday.

He said it was a worry for patients having surgery delayed.

It was also causing stress for surgeons not being able to provide any certainty for people.

A hospital spokeswoman said there was a meeting held yesterday for surgical senior medical officers to discuss perioperative services as a whole.

“The meeting has been scheduled for some time and was originally meant to be held on March 8, it had to be rescheduled to March 22.”

She said “for some specialities there is a 50% reduction in their usual capacity this week, however, we are aiming to deliver up to 70% of our overall planned surgery this week – this does rely on having sufficient staff and bed resources each day. This is being managed on a session by session basis to ensure all available resources are utilised.”

The hospital spokeswoman said “we currently have three anaesthetic technicians (ATs) working for us via an agency.

We are working to bring in further agency staff and registered nurse anaesthetic assistants, among other initiatives, to support us in the anaesthetic technician space and expect this further support to be in place by the end of April.”

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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