Whakaari / White Island: Middlemore burns unit calls for critical equipment

7:39 pm on 19 December 2019

Middlemore Hospital's National Burns Centre is "short" two costly machines needed to rehabilitate victims of last Monday's eruption at Whakaari/White Island.

Middlemore Hospital

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Middlemore Foundation today issued a public plea for donations to fund the burns centre.

Foundation chief executive Sandra Geange said the Middlemore's National Burns Centre was "short on a couple of pieces of equipment" needed to treat patients during medium-to-long term rehabilitation.

"It's a significant short term and medium-to-long term need that's here," she said.

The first bit of equipment was a Sonosite ultrasound machine, which cost between $60,000 to $70,000.

A $25,000 MEEK mesher, a specialised skin graft machine, was also needed.

"They make a huge difference in terms of the efficiency and success outcomes for skin grafts," Geange said.

"They've got one in the ... national burns unit and they probably could do with two, or maybe even three."

Donations would also be used to fund items for patient use, such as iPads, Geange said.

However, National Burns Service coordinator Tracey Perrett said although public generosity was appreciated, the burns centre had enough equipment to meet clinical needs.

Geange was asked whether the Minister of Health had been approached to help fund the equipment needed to treat eight patients with severe burns who remained at Middlemore.

"The DHB have had discussions with the Minister of Health, and I know that the ministry will be coming in to support this as well," she said.

"I think the government are certainly coming to the party from what I hear, and that's something that Counties Manukau Health are doing.

"But there will always be a shortfall and there are many that have been supportive of ... the National Burns Centre."

Health Minister David Clark confirmed the request was being considered by the government.

In a statement, he said additional funding to support Counties Manukau DHB's care of patients was "certainly something the government will be looking at".

Geange said said severe burns sufferers were often effectively patients for life.

As outpatients, they could be back in the hospital for treatment every two weeks, she said.

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