New orthopaedic outpatient programme number shuffling

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says she believes the Southern District Health Board is using its new orthopaedic outpatient programme as a way to hide the huge numbers of Southland people needing surgery.

“As part of the orthopaedic programme physiotherapists are running outreach clinics to reduce the number of people added to the surgical wait list, but I would suggest if you’re on the list because you need surgery - then you need surgery.

“I see this is an attempt by the Southern DHB, to hide Southland’s horrendous orthopaedic waiting list numbers, when the board should actually be working to get those waiting lists down.

“According to Southern DHB figures there are 990 patients in Southland and Otago waiting longer than the recommended timeframe for their orthopaedic surgeries – 715 in Dunedin and 275 in Southland.

“Moving these people off the orthopaedic surgery waiting lists and back into the community might make the Southland DHB look good – but it’s just number-shuffling, doing nothing to help the hundreds of people in our community living with pain.

“Seeing a physiotherapist and taking a person off the waiting list is not going to make their problem go away – if you need a new knee, or a new hip I’d suggest a few exercises is not going to change that.

“In fact, specialists have told me that in the later stages of arthritis, when people’s joints are wearing down, increased activity simply becomes more painful and debilitating for people and that those on these waiting lists are so far beyond physiotherapy that it would be inhumane to subject them to it.

“It takes months of GP visits, X-rays and specialist consultations, to get near the orthopaedic waiting list these days – I just cannot see how patients will benefit from being taken off that list to face more delays and rehabilitation in the community.

“The Southern DHB needs to work on their waiting lists, not spend money on number-shuffling.”