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Quicker service for Wellington cancer outpatients

Quicker service for Wellington cancer outpatients lowers costs and stress

17th June 2008

Waiting times for Wellington Hospital outpatients needing chemotherapy have been cut from hours to just minutes, thanks to a new innovation. The project has also reduced nurses’ overtime and reduced drug wastage.

The Change is as good as a rest project has earned Capital and Coast District Health Board a finalist’s place in the 2008 New Zealand Health Innovation Awards (HIA). It will compete against 19 other finalists, four of which are also from Wellington.

Wellington Hospital’s Audit and Quality Coordinator Karen Corban says under the new system patients now enjoy a quicker and less stressful service.

“With a 50 percent rise in demand over the last five years, patients were spending several hours in the waiting room while nurses worked overtime to get through the backlog. Now most patients are seen within 20 minutes.

“Pharmacy personnel, clinicians and nurses all working together to streamline the system has led to happier patients and happier staff.”

Under the new system the hospital’s Cancer Centre unit provides pharmacy staff with patient information 48 hours before their appointment. They then make the chemotherapy drugs 24 hours ahead of time, recycling unused doses. When the patient arrives at the outpatient centre their drugs are already made up for them, cutting down on long waiting times.

Another development has been outsourcing the pre-mixing of certain chemotherapy drugs to an external manufacturer which has succeeded in increasing capacity.

Since the project began, nurses’ overtime has fallen from 61 hours to 22 hours over three months. The amount of wasted chemotherapy drugs has also dropped from four percent to less than one percent.

The project is a collaboration between the Wellington Blood and Cancer Centre(WBCC) and the Pharmacy Manufacturing unit.

The HIA are a joint endeavour of the Ministry of Health and ACC. They were started in 2003 to recognise individuals and organisations that have developed new and innovative approaches to delivering better health services.

Further information about the HIA is available online at

This year’s HIA winners will be announced at the HIA expo and gala dinner held on 4 November at the Wellington Town Hall.


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