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Gyno clinic closes for two weeks

 

Wairarapa Hospital has canceled gynaecology appointments. PHOTO/GRACE PRIOR

HELEN HOLT

Wairarapa is without a gynaecology clinic.

Staff shortages closed the clinic at Wairarapa Hospital on Tuesday and Wednesday and it would also be shut on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

Health NZ [Te Whatu Ora] interim district manager Dale Oliff said the closure was due to a staff vacancy, and 15 appointments were postponed as a result.

A former patient at the clinic said she was surprised by the cancellations, given “it was hard to get an appointment there at the best of times”.

Women’s Health Action general manager Isis McKay said it was a concerning situation.

“Generally, New Zealanders don’t make appointments with a gynaecologist unless there’s an issue they’re concerned about.

“I hope that the people whose appointments were postponed were told before the public announcement.”

She said it was just one example of the stretched health system.

“Compiled with the stress within the health sector, it is not a surprise.

“This situation highlights the issue around highly trained professionals either leaving the profession or going overseas. I hope professional bodies look to find ways to retain these workers in Aotearoa.

“While we have optimism in the health reforms, we still need to ensure these services are running for people who need them.

Oliff said the hospital had two gynaecologists, both based in the region.

She advised people with urgent concerns to seek an appointment with their GP.

“And if you’re acutely unwell and require emergency treatment, present to Wairarapa Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Oliff said people also had an option to speak to a gynaecology nurse.

She said patients would be triaged and appointments rebooked based on clinical priority.

Oliff did not comment on the length of the waiting list before the clinic was cancelled but said it was “within ministry guidelines”.

She said she was confident the clinic would be reopened by August 8.

Wairarapa’s private hospital, Selina Sutherland, did not have a gynaecologist for the next three weeks.

There have been multiple appointments and surgery delays at Wairarapa Hospital due to covid disruptions and staff shortages.

In April, five gynaecology patients waited longer than four months for their first specialist appointments, and 22 waited more than four months for surgeries.

Between July 2021 and May this year, 220 people waited more than four months for elective surgeries in Wairarapa.

Between August 2021 and February this year, there were 883 total deferred procedures in Wairarapa, including 773 cancelled outpatient appointments.

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