Health board tight-lipped on increased surgical services

Posted at 10:00am Wednesday 31 Mar, 2021

A push by Warkworth Area Liaison Group (WALG) to secure more surgical services for the growing Mahurangi region has received a non-committal response from the Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB).

WALG secretary Steve Haycock wrote to WDHB director of hospital services Mark Shepherd last month congratulating the WDHB on providing the Warkworth-based Rodney Surgical Centre with a contract to provide publicly funded endoscopy services.

The letter went on to say that there was a high proportion of older residents in the Mahurangi area. As well as being more likely to require medical treatments, this age group was more likely to find it difficult to get down to Auckland to get treated.

“This situation is only going to get worse with the Council's policy to encourage the population to dramatically increase in the next 10 years,” the letter said.

The letter, therefore, urged the WDHB to have more surgical services available locally.

Mahurangi Matters followed up by asking Mr Shepherd if the WDHB would consider further services in the area and, if so, what would they likely be and when could they be expected to be delivered.

Mr Shepherd said the WDHB was currently revising Warkworth's health needs profile to identify what new immediate and medium-term needs the community might have. But he did not identify any specific services that might be delivered in the near future.

He said the additional endoscopy procedures provided via the Rodney Surgical Centre were in response to increased demand brought on by Covid-19 disruptions.  

Rodney Surgical Centre chief executive Marianne Davidson-Beker said her own discussions with Mr Shepherd suggested his top priority was to ensure operating theatres at North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals were being used to full capacity and regional issues were further down his list of critical issues.

Though she believed Mr Shepherd did see the wisdom of having a single surgeon travel up to Warkworth rather than many patients travelling to see him or her in Auckland, and was open to this idea.

Ms Davidson-Beker said publicly funded ophthalmology (eye disorder) services would be especially welcome in Mahurangi, particularly for those suffering from macular degeneration or requiring cataract surgery.

She said local people with macular degeneration had to travel to Greenlane or Waitakere hospital every three or four weeks for injections, and a high proportion had to be driven there as they were no longer able to drive.       

She added the Rodney Surgical Centre would be an ideal place for publicly-funded chemotherapy and haematology treatments if the WDHB was open to providing contracts for them.

Current Warkworth community services funded by the WDHB include district nurses; an Allied Health team that delivers physiotherapy, social work and occupational therapy; the Warkworth Birthing Centre and the Tohu Wairua community mental health team. 


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