Napier councillor complains after son's surgery delay

By Patrick O'Sullivan -
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Michelle Pyke and her son Donovan Hannay check an X-ray of his broken jaw. Photo/Glen Taylor.
Michelle Pyke and her son Donovan Hannay check an X-ray of his broken jaw. Photo/Glen Taylor.

Napier city councillor Michelle Pyke is complaining after her son spent five days in pain waiting for surgery on his broken jaw, being told every day surgery was imminent.

The concerned mother said she was prompted to complain after reading a Hawke's Bay Today story about Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United soccer player Fergus Neil's broken jaw at a game on Saturday.

"I feel for Fergus Neil and his broken jaw but feel obliged to also point out that the surgery he needs may not happen 'tomorrow or the next day' if my son's recent experience is anything to go by," she said.

"As the DHB only employs one maxillofacial specialist, coupled with the pressure on the elective surgery list ... Fergus may find he's waiting up to five days or more as my son did following his jaw being broken in two places on October 13 in an unprovoked attack.

"Five days in hospital being told several times every day that the surgery would happen."

Her 23-year-old son Donovan Hannay's diet was restricted by the injury and the anticipation of imminent surgery, she said.

"If this is the best the DHB can do then I fear for those who, like Fergus and my son, have no choice but to suffer and wait for their complaint to be surgically remedied. I also feel for the nursing staff on the surgical ward who have to bear the brunt of their patients' and patients families' angst at seeing such agony prolonged in this way - they do an excellent job and I truly feel sorry that they're the messengers caught in the middle of the situation."

Hawke's Bay Hospital's chief medical officer John Gommans said the maxillofacial service would like to thank the family for highlighting their issue so the service could improve "and learn from mistakes like this".

"A better job could have been done communicating with the family around the reasons for delay and the last-minute theatre cancellations. The DHB is sorry for the unnecessary stress and frustration this must have caused."

He said sometimes surgery was postponed for emergency life-threatening cases, but it was unusual for such a long delay.

"We would like to reassure the community we take complaints like this seriously, and we learn from them.

"We strive to provide as timely a service as possible but sometimes it doesn't happen as we would want, and we apologise for that." The DHB has one maxillofacial surgeon, Derek Goodisson, who also coordinates the training for cranial facial trauma in New Zealand.

Before Mr Goodisson was appointed by the DHB, patients requiring facial surgery were transferred out of the region and experienced "significant delays", Dr Gommans said.

Hawke's Bay was also part of an emergency service shared between Mid Central, Hutt, Taranaki and Hawke's Bay DHBs, which provided on-call cover for each other, sending patients between DHBs if necessary. "However in most cases the upset and dislocation this can cause families means if it can be avoided, it is."

Mr Neil's surgery was performed on Tuesday, as scheduled.

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