Palmerston North Hospital will work with one of its neighbours so urology patients are no longer subjected to “sub-optimal” care.
It has agreed to co-operate with Whanganui Hospital to improve systems that frequently left patients frustrated.
Miscommunication between the two hospitals, unnecessarily long wait times and having to see many different specialists are among the complaints from people needing urology services, which deals with problems with urinary tracts and male reproductive organs.
Until now, MidCentral District Health Board has provided urology services to a population of 226,000, of which 66,000 are from the Whanganui district.
However, the Palmerston North and Whanganui hospitals acknowledge the system has been “sub-optimal” for several years, according to a report before the DHB.
Running two separate urology cancer services across their boundaries meant each hospital has to arrange appointments and other bureaucratic elements, such as general communication and administration.
Together, they have developed a new way of working, after consulting patients, GPs and staff.
Now, both hospitals will use a single system to avoid duplication and confusion.
When the matter was brought before the MidCentral board this month, chief executive Kathryn Cook said it was a “terrific outcome” and showed the benefits of taking a “patient-centred approach”.
She said the main advantage of the new service was establishing accountability for patients.
“That has been the issue that has been fraught, because it has not been clear which DHB [and] which clinician has been accountable for patients and their outcomes.
“This resolves those issues.”
MidCentral chairwoman Dot McKinnon, who also chairs the Whanganui DHB, described it as “collaboration at its best”.
Board member Barbara Robson said they should not rest on their laurels and needed to make sure the new system worked as it should.
McKinnon assured her that all reporting would be clear.
Fellow board member Adrian Broad said services could not continue as they were.
“It is good that we are acknowledging this and getting into it before it becomes too challenging for our clinical staff.”
He questioned if other services would need similar co-operation with Whanganui.
Cook told Broad the urology model could be replicated in other services.
Board member Diane Anderson said there had been issues with early recognition and this addressed that.
MidCentral board members approved the work and the Whanganui DHB had welcomed the arrangement.