11 Nov 2010

Neurosurgery decision an 'innovative' solution

11:36 am on 11 November 2010

The decision on neurosurgery in the South Island is innovative and will provide useful lessons as other complex services are reorganised in coming months, a senior doctor believes.

An expert panel has recommended that services continue to be delivered from Dunedin and Christchurch, instead of a proposal to centralise and operate them from Christchurch.

It recommends that the existing Dunedin-based service is bolstered and that the University of Otago become an integral part of establishing an academic centre of neurosurgery for New Zealand. Neurosurgery services will be also strengthened in Christchurch.

The recommendations are suppported by the Government.

It is the first so-called-fragile service to be reorganised under the new National Health Board. Others are being considered, including clinical genetic services, and some paediatric and trauma services.

Individual approaches are said to be needed, but Palmerston North paediatrician Jeff Brown says this first case shows what can be done with a broad, innovative approach.

Dr Brown heads the senior doctors' union and sits on the National Health Board.

However, the head of the expert panel, Auckland paediatrician Anne Kolbe, warns its recipe for neurosurgery may not necessarily work for other medical specialties.

Sharing services 'made sense'

The new chair of a board that will oversee the neurosurgical services says there is no way the services could have been centralised in Christchurch.

Acting Director General of Health, Andrew Bridgman says the time taken to transport often acute patients from remote locations in the lower South Island to Christchurch was a key factor in the decision.

Melbourne neurosurgeon Andrew Kaye will chair the oversight board and says it is a commonsense outcome.