In the latest of a string of unfortunate events, Dunedin Hospital has lost the right to train orthopedic surgeons. This comes as the hospital is fighting to regain ICU accreditation, leaking roofs are forcing the cancellation of surgeries, food contracts are proving controversial and a deficit of $42 million is expected.
Last week, the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) informed members that those seeking employment or training with the Southern District Health Board or Dunedin Hospital should consider going elsewhere. The RDA suggested that the loss heightens the risk of future losses.
Dick Bunton, the SDHB patient services director, wanted to clarify that technically the accreditation had not been lost, the hospital simply lost the right to take on trainees. However, Bunton admitted the effects are the same.
Dunedin North MP David Clark said “losing orthopedic advanced training is serious” for Dunedin Hospital. “There is a knock-on effect. The hospital can no longer train students in this specialty and will struggle to attract the kind of experienced and talented surgeons to the hospital that it has in the past.”
Clark said, “Dunedin is the last major metropolitan centre in New Zealand not to have a hospital upgrade.” If that doesn’t happen soon, he said, “further loss of accreditation will result”.
Many have feared that the decision will have a negative effect on medical students studying in Dunedin. Deborah Powell, RDA national president, has said Dunedin is losing its reputation as a good city for health students to study in.
According to Clark, medical and nursing students “should be concerned”. Clark said the “quality of their education is at risk. Students should be preparing themselves in first-world facilities, not training for a shift to the third.”
However, CEO of Dunedin Hospital, Carole Heatly, said the issue is not as drastic as is being made out and “it is important that these matters are kept in perspective”.
“The issues highlighted affect a small area of the training opportunities we provide and are being resolved,” said Heatly. “Dunedin Hospital continues to be an excellent teaching hospital. We are planning to improve our facilities in ICU and are very confident that this will address accreditation issues.”
The Dean of the Dunedin School of Medicine, Professor Barry Taylor, also agreed any problems will soon be resolved and medical students have nothing to worry about. “[The] long-term future of training surgeons is well secured; this current issue is not a permanent one, and it will be addressed through quality improvement maintenance,” said Taylor.