Better access to elective surgery at $27m development means more jobs in NZ.

In a healthcare climate where many medical professionals are flocking across the ditch in search of work, a new surgical unit is providing big employment opportunities and extending the skill sets for current staff.

"This is a pretty rare situation," says Dr Vanessa Beavis, senior clinician at Auckland's Greenlane Surgical Unit (GSU) where 30 new roles have been established.

"It's quite unusual to be recruiting this number all at once."

Instigated by the Ministry of Health's national targets to deliver better access to elective surgery, the $27 million development was officially opened in April last year.


With three new operating rooms, another that has been refurbished and extended, a home dialysis service and eye clinic, the new unit provides not only extended services, shorter waiting times and reduced cancellations for patients but new roles and opportunities for health care practitioners.

Major relocation and renovation of the supporting facilities has also taken place, allowing for more Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) surgical patients to be treated at the Greenlane site.

For job seekers in the industry, theatre manager of the unit, Ngaire Sharp, says the facility should be considered an appealing prospect for health care practitioners requiring family friendly working hours.

"The development means we have more roles to offer. The Greenlane Surgical Unit facility is a great option for people who are wanting family friendly hours, as we only work Monday to Friday, and support a very limited on-call service in the evening and weekend days only."

Sharp took on her role 2-years ago when construction began.

In her own position, she has enjoyed developing a broad range of relationships with colleagues, facilities, project managers, ward charge nurses, service managers and medical companies.

She sees the new services as a chance for staff across the board, from graduates to those in senior roles, to upskill and learn using leading methods and state of the art equipment.

While Greenlane has long been known for its strong focus on training, the new unit allows for further education and coaching, says Sharp.

"Staff have had increased in-services and the opportunity to upskill in other ADHB operating theatre units, working with the surgeons who will be moving to the GSU facility and being supported by the educators and colleagues."

Staff at the unit are set up with an online education system where they can learn and sit tests to gain skills and certificates of completion, says Sharp.

The unit is also implementing new methods of care, set to both benefit patients and equip staff with abilities that make for more efficient practice.

For example, says Beavis, nurses will be trained in over-the-phone consultations. "We really are trying to cut down on the mucking about that we inflict on people. If you are generally pretty fit and well, you can be assisted over the phone," she says of new assessment training in place for nurses. "It requires from the staff an extra level of skill because you don't have the patient sitting in front of you. And it means people don't have to take time out of their day to make an unnecessary trip here."

As Beavis notes, no one likes surgery, and it can be a stressful time for not only the patient but their family as well.

Sharp says a new screening system they have developed helps staff pre-empt the required care and keep family members better informed at every stage of a procedure.

"We have an overview screen of our theatres so we can see where patients are in the sequence of events, from pre op through to discharge from the PACU (Post Anaesthetic Care Unit) at a glance. This enables staff to see and be able to anticipate care required, and allows our reception staff to give families information as to where their family member is through their surgical journey."

The GSU makes for an appealing prospect because it not only caters for a wide age range of patients but the unit has established courses to give a basic knowledge base, says Sharp.

"From babies to the elderly, and we cover ORL, general surgery, oral health services for both paediatrics and adults, and gynaecology, urology and lithotripsy for adults," says Sharp. "We have "New to OR" and "New to PACU" courses to support staff new to the preoperative environment, where they get additional teaching programmes in the first three months to give them a basic knowledge base to build upon."

For the likes of Sharp, the extended services and resources mean she feels she is able to do a better job.

"I got into health so I could help people, so it is a privilege to be able to offer more services to the population of Auckland.

"The whole reason we exist is to provide care for people in need of health services and this is my focus, to do the best I can for patients within our resources."