Saturday, December 4

Covid-19: Auckland DHBs seek to curb the impacts of the blockade on elective surgery


Auckland District Health Boards (DHB) are trying to contain the effect of the latest Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, having canceled a large number of non-acute operations and procedures since last week.

Generic shot of the operating / surgery table in the hospital.

Auckland DHBs have been trying to catch up on elective surgeries canceled during previous Covid-19 shutdowns in 2020 and earlier this year, but have had to cancel more non-urgent operations this week due to level restrictions. alert 4.
Photo: 123RF

A spokesperson for the Northern Region Health Coordination Center (NRHCC) said DHBs were doing their best to keep patients, visitors and staff safe as they responded to the latest outbreak.

“We continue to provide urgent and essential medical care. We have full confidence in our infection prevention and control measures and our staff to handle Covid-19 cases safely.”

In June of last year, it was revealed that the counties Manukau District Board of Health (DHB) alone had deferred between 1,400 and 1,600 elective surgical operations due to Covid-19.

The government gave it a much-needed funding boost of $ 94 million in the 2020 budget to try to overcome the problem and it appeared to have moved on, but the latest lockdown will add to the waiting lists.

A spokesman for the NRHCC said they were unable to provide exact numbers on how many elective surgeries had been canceled in Auckland since the country entered alert level 4 lockdown last week.

“We do not have numbers available at this time, as our operational teams are currently focused on managing the Covid-19 response, but according to national guidelines for alert level 4, all non-emergency care, including surgery and outpatient appointments have been postponed, “they said.

The spokesperson said DHBs were communicating directly with patients to reschedule appointments and that they were working on this as quickly as possible as the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown restrictions changed and developed.

They said that some patients had experienced delays in both surgery and outpatient appointments due to the impact of Alert Level 3 and 4 lockouts in 2020 and early 2021.

“We were running more clinics and op lists until the start of the last shutdown, and we had also hired some private providers. Good progress was made and we will resume this plan as soon as possible. Patients are always prioritized according to clinical need and waiting lists are periodically reviewed. “

They said it was still too early to talk about the financial impact of the latest outbreak on Auckland’s DHBs.

Ian Powell, executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists.

Health Commentator Dr. Ian Powell
Photo: Supplied

Health commentator and former executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), Ian Powell, said the cancellation of elective surgeries was an unavoidable consequence of the shutdown.

“I’m surprised they don’t have data on how many deals have been canceled, but maybe it’s too early,” Powell said.

He said the real test for DHBs would be trying to overcome the delay in surgery after the blockage.

“The problem will be getting the medical staff and nursing staff to do the recovery operations. It will be a real logistical challenge.”

Powell said there was already a nationwide shortage of about 1,000 specialists. He said that from waiting lists for elective surgeries to staff shortages, they were all problems the health system had before Covid-19, but that the pandemic had exacerbated the problems.

Powell said more cooperation between DHBs would be needed to fix the problem when restrictions are lifted.

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