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488 disruptions to hospital appointments and surgeries in one day

A snap public holiday has forced the cancellation of 12 surgeries scheduled at Wairarapa Hospital.
One person had been waiting for surgery for longer than four months.
Wairarapa was one of many hospitals around New Zealand to have cancelled procedures booked for September 26 after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a one-off public holiday to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Te Whatu Ora Wairarapa interim district director Dale Oliff said patients who were booked for surgery on that date would be rebooked for appointments in the coming weeks. This would include using appointments that became available when other patients cancelled or were rescheduled.
Last month, there were 49 patients who were on the waiting list for surgeries longer than four months, the longest at the time was 210 days [six months and three weeks].
Oliff said she could not confirm how long all the patients whose surgeries were scheduled for September 26 had been waiting. However, one person was confirmed to have been waiting longer than four months.
Wairarapa Hospital cancelled 1141 procedures between August 2021 and June 2022, including 212 planned care interventions and 930 outpatient appointments.
Oliff confirmed the public holiday had also meant 476 scheduled outpatient appointments would be postponed.
However, the hospital was not the only service that would be disrupted due to the snap public holiday; primary care services were also anticipating a busy week post-September 26.
New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Bryan Betty said general practices were expecting a spike on the Tuesday after the day off.
“It’s always full-on the day after the public holiday. On top of the booked appointments, we also get the overflow of people who got sick over the weekend.
“They will take it in their stride. Often surgeries will put on extra staff on that day and extra staff on the phone.”
However, he said the late announcement may need reshuffling of rosters to manage the change.
“They usually try to think ahead, but in this case, the holiday announcement came up quite quickly. It may put more pressure on staff.”
Earlier this week, Masterton Medical was under pressure from staff shortages, resulting in the cancellation of its online messaging service.
Patients were advised to call the practice if they had trouble interpreting lab results and book an appointment if they had medical questions.
The practice was unable to confirm when the online service would be reinstated.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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