Some Canterbury health services deferred as DHB staffing impacted by COVID-19

As the number of active cases of Omicron continues to rise in our community, more Canterbury DHB staff are contracting COVID-19 and having to isolate. Some have COVID, some are household contacts and others need to stay home to look after whānau who have COVID-19.

Canterbury’s COVID-19 Emergency Coordination Centre Controller, Dr Helen Skinner said as of today, Monday 14 March, we are only going ahead with urgent surgery, such as cancer care, and other acute surgery such as following an accident or major trauma, with only a small volume of planned (elective) surgery and procedures going ahead.

“Some outpatient appointments are also being postponed this week. Many have already been switched to virtual consults and are carried out over the phone or by video call, however we have to postpone more planned in-person appointments this week,” Dr Skinner said.

“Urgent outpatient clinics such as dialysis will continue as will urgent and non-deferrable surgery and medical procedures.

“We apologise in advance to those affected by these changes. Anyone whose surgery or outpatient appointment has to be deferred will be contacted by phone.  Over the past two weeks staff have gone all out to allow us to continue to provide as much planned care as possible, but with so many staff away we are unable to maintain our usual levels of surgery and outpatient appointments.

“If you haven’t been contacted by us, please assume your appointment or surgery is going ahead,” she said.

Dr Skinner said Canterbury DHB was utilising all available staff to cover gaps in rosters. “Clinical and non-clinical staff are needed throughout the system to cover a range of roles. We are also deploying staff to help out in a number of rest homes in Canterbury and on the West Coast to ensure some of our most vulnerable community members are well supported.

“It is important to note that all emergency and non-deferrable surgery and procedures are still going ahead, and anyone needing urgent and emergency care should continue to call their GP team or Healthline 0800 611 116 for health advice or dial 111 if it’s an emergency.

“Our hospitals and health centres have the highest level of infection, prevention and control measures in place and we encourage everyone to continue to seek the care they need when they need it.

“Hapū māmā/pregnant people should contact their Lead Maternity Carer if they have concerns or suspect they are in labour.

“Once again, we apologise for the inconvenience and stress of having your surgery or appointment postponed at short notice, and hope people appreciate the need to prioritise all our available people resources to ensure safe care for everyone,” Dr Skinner said.