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Strengthening relationships with Canterbury DHB

Media Release

20 August 2013

Strengthening relationships between Canterbury DHB and the West Coast DHB

Imagine a hospital with a long corridor says David Brydon, Service Manager Orthopaedic Department at Christchurch Hospital. “That’s the philosophy of the Transalpine service. It’s one service that spans the Alps linking Canterbury and the West Coast.”

In a move to develop relationships and give West Coast DHB Resident Medical Officers (RMOs) or junior doctors further orthopaedic experience, the RMOs will each spend a week in the Orthopaedic Department at Christchurch Hospital. This includes the outpatient area, Emergency Department, wards and theatre.

“One of the challenges with establishing the service on both sides of the Alps is the need to understand the respective working environments for each team,” says David.

“There are a lot of differences between the two hospitals, so over the year the Transalpine service has been in place it has become obvious that staff from both sides of the Alps need to have a good understanding of each other’s capabilities and capacities.

“Communication also works better with good working relationships, so having the RMOs coming to Christchurch gives them the opportunity to meet the Registrars who they are interacting with on a regular basis.”

David says as well as improving relationships, spending time with the orthopaedic registrars who are dealing with acute patients gives RMOs the opportunity to compare the different orthopaedic case mix and the difference in workloads between the two regions.

“Often if an RMO on the West Coast is struggling to get hold of the Registrar it is because they are usually flat out. Equally, it’s also useful for Registrars to know that RMOs working on the West Coast don’t have the luxury of having resources available 24/7 like they do at Christchurch Hospital.

“This understanding of the different working environments will improve the team work across the two areas and ultimately deliver better patient care,” says David.

Acting Operations Manager Ralph La Salle says the training initiative arose from a need to strengthen RMO skills around acute orthopaedic services.

"RMOs on duty overnight felt underprepared for some orthopaedic work that could present to the Emergency Department. After spending a week in the Orthopaedic Department in Christchurch they will be more confident to handle orthopaedic cases at night."

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Carol Atmore says that the majority of the time there is a Greymouth-based generalist on call who can support the RMOs.

During the week-long training, RMOs will undertake house surgeon clinics for one day (managing acute patients presenting with minor orthopaedic injuries), attend specialist clinics with one to one training on the second day, shadow the acute on-call Orthopaedic Registrar for two days and attend department educational meetings.

They will also attend fracture clinics and have the option to choose from everything they’ve done to have extra training in any area they feel they need more support.

The programme will run over the next three months and be repeated with each new RMO intake.

Megan McLeod is the first of seven RMOs who are lined up to come to Christchurch and has just finished her week’s training. She says the experience has been invaluable.

“I do feel a lot more confident after this. I’ve found it really useful working with the Orthopaedic Registrars and seeing what they are dealing with everyday. It’s been varied and good exposure to a lot of orthopaedic cases.”

She says she enjoyed being hands on with procedures while having some guidance at the same time.


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