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Patient care at Dunedin Hospital suffers

Patient care at Dunedin Hospital suffers as a result of years of neglect and ignoring warnings from specialists

“The reported examples of poor patient care at Dunedin Hospital are a direct result of years of neglect from the leadership of the District Health Board including ignoring warnings from frustrated specialists. It needs to be sorted out swiftly to prevent further suffering,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

He was commenting on media coverage of long delays in the urology department at Dunedin Hospital which have been attributed to a shortage of urologists to deal with the waiting lists for treatment, lack of access to operating theatres, and lack of intensive care beds for post-operative care. ( and

Southern DHB Commissioner Kathy Grant has described the situation as regrettable (

“The cause is not just under-funding which affects an entrenched culture within senior management of disregarding specialist warnings over many years including by urologists. I am aware of several occasions where serious concerns over access to operating theatres, the standard of these theatres for patient care, intensive care needs, specialist staffing shortages and other issues have been brushed off because of this culture.

“This is a situation that new Chief Executive Chris Fleming has inherited, rather than caused. But it is his responsibility to fix it. His recent leadership restructuring might help but unless the culture changes to one of engagement and responsiveness, he will fail. The clock is ticking, Chris.

“It is not that long ago that it took an orthopaedic surgeon to go public on leaking operating theatres to highlight their state of disrepair. The same surgeon had raised these concerns with senior management many times, including in my presence.”

“Urologists have been raising their concerns for many years but these have again been disregarded. In desperation, they (not management) first called for a review of the urology service.”

Ian Powell says the situation at Dunedin Hospital is distressing for patients, their families and also for the specialists and other health professionals who want to provide the treatment that is clearly needed.

“Health Minister Jonathan Coleman should be ashamed of himself for not having the courage to front up on this issue. Sadly, he is reinforcing the leadership culture of neglect that along with under-funding is responsible for this debacle including the crisis in urology.”

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