Media Release 7 July 2020|Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) has made significant progress in catching up on the backlog of elective surgeries and clinics caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.
About 230 surgeries and 1800 outpatient appointments were carried out during four Saturdays and some evenings last month at the Manukau Health Park.
The catch-up elective services were made possible because of an enormous amount of goodwill from staff, according to General Manager Surgery, Anaesthesia and Perioperative Services, Pauline McGrath.
“We ran eight theatres each Saturday and held clinics in all of the surgical services and many of the medical services. Staff were really committed, they recognised the deficit and worked really hard,” Ms McGrath says.
Due to the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown, about 1400 elective surgeries were postponed. The 230 surgeries carried out over four Saturdays represents approximately 15 per cent of the total deferred surgeries, she explains.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the quick work tackling the backlog caused by the COVID-19 lockdown shows the same flexibility and responsiveness that has been the hallmark of our health response to the global pandemic.
“New Zealand is in an enviable position with no evidence of community transmission of COVID-19. That means our hospitals and other health services are able to deliver the full range of care that people need.
“I want to thank the doctors, nurses and allied health workers that have gone the extra mile in recent weeks to conduct extra clinics and surgeries.”
Pauline McGrath says it was particularly encouraging that all the people booked to have surgery showed up on the day, adding this is likely due to good follow up from admissions and booking staff and the assistance of Maaori Health Services and Pacific Health Services.
“Staff were also committed to achieve the maximum efficiency of our theatre capacity,” she says.
“Post COVID-19 we projected we might get 60 to 70 per cent but by the end of May we actually got to 95 -100 per cent activity levels.”
The number and range of staff who made the Saturday clinics and surgeries possible is extensive and includes surgeons, consultants, radiologists, anaesthetists, anaesthetist technicians, resident medical officers, nurses and nurse managers, as well as admissions staff, bookers cleaners and security staff.
“It was across the board – every discipline that supports surgical services and outpatient clinics was involved,” Ms McGrath says, adding that staff reported a really positive vibe during the Saturday clinics and surgeries.
“Patients were also delighted to be getting their surgeries and we received positive feedback,” she says.
No urgent surgeries or clinics were deferred during lockdown and planning is underway to continue to address the remaining backlog of elective surgeries and clinics as a result of COVID-19.