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Wairarapa DHB: Cancellations put down to staff illness

Wairarapa DHB manages the covid crisis. PHOTO/ADOBE.STOCK.COM

It’s omicron putting the pressure on

Wairarapa DHB is cancelling and rearranging hospital and other appointments as it deals with covid-19.

About 85 non-surgical outpatient appointments had been cancelled, in addition to 95 planned surgeries previously reported.

Imaging had also been affected, with some cancelled and others moved to Greytown.

DHB chief executive Dale Oliff said while efforts to minimise disruption had been made, the changes were needed due to staff illness.

“We have tried to limit the amount of outpatient cancellations for clinics and instead have encouraged the use of virtual consults to support patients who may be isolating or covid-19 positive. There have been approximately 85 appointments cancelled, and 60 per cent of these were related to staff absence due to covid-19,” she said.

Oliff said primary care would continue to be available as normal.

“Where appointments have been cancelled, either by patients or the hospital, we have tried to reschedule these within a few weeks of the original date. The main reasons for delays was mainly as a result of staff absenteeism due to sickness.”

A DHB spokesperson confirmed 13 imaging appointments were cancelled, including scans and x-rays.

“There have been relatively few hospital cancelled appointments for imaging and most cancellations have been patient initiated. Many of these appointment cancellations have been rescheduled and have already taken place,” Oliff said.

“A small number of ultrasound appointments were cancelled due to DHB staff sickness however approximately 10 patients were sent to Grayscale Ultrasound in Greytown.”


Routine medical care such as annual diabetes checks and GP appointments was continuing, subject to staff availability.

“Patients can still access primary care services as normal. The only time primary care services may be interrupted is when staff are off sick with covid-19 or isolating at home. Most staff are continuing to work remotely when isolating. Where a face-to-face clinic is needed, this is being rescheduled to the earliest available opportunity,” Oliff said.

Breast screening services in the region had also been delayed. The mobile unit was last in the region for 12 weeks from September 2 to November 27, 2021, with the time extended due to covid.

During that visit 2196 women were screened including 340 Maori and 39 Pacific women. The mobile unit will be in Wairarapa again from April 11, with an extended time until the end of July.

It is expected about 1725 women would be screened.

Oliff said the DHB focus had been on limiting the amount of disruption to outpatient appointments. She expected services to start resuming soon.

“We anticipate the level of disruption that has occurred during the omicron wave will reduce in the coming weeks. As the covid-19 climate is changing and evolving, we continue to closely monitor the situation, and plan and adapt accordingly,” she said.

“We are enormously appreciative of people’s understanding during the past few weeks as the omicron wave has picked up a pace. Our staff are working extremely hard to provide the best possible care under these challenging times.

“We ask our communities to continue to have patience with us as we all rally to support our staff and communities through the impacts experienced mainly as a result of absenteeism due to omicron,” she said.

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