Press Release – Bay of Plenty District Health Board
The Chairperson, two Board Members, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Executive of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board met with the Senior Medical staff at Whakatane Hospital on Monday to discuss the changes to the microbiology testing introduced …
5 October 2011
Microbiology Concerns addressed at Whakatane Hospital
The Chairperson, two Board Members, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Executive of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board met with the Senior Medical staff at Whakatane Hospital on Monday to discuss the changes to the microbiology testing introduced by Pathlab, the hospital laboratory operator.
Microbiology testing forms a small but important part of the hospital laboratory services supporting medical staff in Whakatane Hospital.
All parties involved in the meeting agreed that the issues and concerns that had been raised about the transfer of routine microbiology samples for testing in Tauranga, and the need for ongoing support for urgent microbiology testing in Whakatane, should be able to be resolved.
“The District Health Board is committed to providing the best possible health outcomes for the whole of the Bay of Plenty community. It continues to be our priority that our people are getting the best possible services when it comes to their health.” says Sally Webb, Chairperson of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.
“It is unfortunate that communication between Pathlab, the DHB and Senior Medical staff in regard to these changes has not been of a high enough quality. I, together with the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Executive, have now been able to spend time with the Senior Medical staff at Whakatane Hospital, and in doing so cleared up some of the gaps in information that had been created and in particular misinformation that has been widely circulated, and then unfortunately perpetuated through media reports,” says Ms Webb
“One of these inaccuracies is that the microbiology laboratory is being shut down – this is not the case at all. What is in fact happening is that a portion of the non-urgent work that used to be completed in Whakatane will now be done in Tauranga, where a new dedicated laboratory with more up-to-date technology is available.
Urgent microbiology testing will continue to be processed at Whakatane. The service levels that Whakatane Hospital receives from Pathlab are contractually required to be identical to that received by Tauranga Hospital – and Pathlab will be monitored to ensure that this requirement is met as part of their contract” she added.
Mr John Kyngdon, Bay of Plenty District Health Board Chief Medical Officer, says that there is no increase in clinical risk with the relocation of non-urgent microbiology testing from Whakatane Hospital to Tauranga.
“Lab services won’t be any different with the changes that are being put in place by Pathlab. We will still have a perfectly functioning lab available at the hospital, what will be different is that we will now have access to the state of the art technology that exists in Tauranga and Pathologist advice and reporting” says Mr Kyngdon.
He adds “We have been continually assured by Pathlab that the service that Whakatane hospital receives will be maintained and I expect that to continue. After initial, or urgent, tests have been conducted the cultures from urgent tests will begin their incubation at Whakatane Hospital.”
“There is a clinical committee in place to monitor the service levels being delivered by Pathlab, and as a result of hearing concerns from the Whakatane Senior doctors, an additional weekly meeting will be put in place with Pathlab in Whakatane to ensure that high quality services continue to be delivered and any concerns are addressed immediately. “
Pathlab pathologists have been overseeing the Whakatane laboratory for the last 12 years and took over the management of the facility in 2010.
Pathlab’s owners are all NZ domiciled practicing Pathologists and it is the largest privately owned and managed laboratory in New Zealand, providing services to the Midland region, which including the Lakes District Health Board, Tairawhiti District Health Board and Waikato District Health Board. All other New Zealand laboratories with the exception of Taranaki are owned by offshore entities.
Pathlab has held the contract for community (GP ordered) testing for the whole Bay of Plenty, including the Eastern Bay of Plenty, for many years, with microbiology testing ordered by GPs in the Eastern Bay of Plenty having always been transferred by Pathlab to Tauranga for processing.
Pathlab have indicated that they are also examining transferring community testing of non microbiology samples for Eastern Bay GPs to the Whakatane Hospital laboratory, increasing its ongoing ability to recruit and retain staff and expertise.