21 Oct 2019

The trial of waiting for cancer treatment in Southland

From Checkpoint, 6:10 pm on 21 October 2019

A Southland man whose life has likely been cut short due to lengthy delays in receiving cancer treatment is demanding better access to healthcare for Southern patients.

The Health and Disability Commissioner has released a report on Urology services at the Southern DHB after receiving 38 complaints since the beginning of 2016.

The report, which looked at the treatment of four patients, found unacceptable delays in assessment and treatment, which resulted in substantial clinical risk.

The DHB has been forced to apologise to the four patients. One of them is Stephen Hoffman, who waited ten months for treatment which should have only taken weeks.

He has now developed secondary cancer, and it's terminal.

Stephen Hoffman sat down with our South Island reporter Logan Church at his home in Gore, to recall the moment his life changed forever.

Health Minister David Clark declined to be interviewed about the Health and Disability Commissioner's report.

But in a statement he says he's well aware of the distress and "health loss" that can result when people wait too long for appropriate treatment.

David Clark says expects the Southern DHB will address the issues identified in the report, which first emerged under the previous National government, as a matter of priority.

He says he's been told the DHB has made good progress reducing wait times for urology first specialist assessments but has more work to do to ensure all patients who need surgery receive it in a timely fashion.