ANDY JACKSON/Stuff

Jamie Jeffreys’ health has got worse in the six months she has been waiting for an ultrasound.

Taranaki woman Jamie Jeffreys has been trying to get an ultrasound since last October.

She has undiagnosed health problems and was referred to the Taranaki District Health Board (TDHB) by her doctor to try and figure out the problem.

Six months on, Jeffreys is still waiting for an appointment yet her pain and other symptoms are getting worse.

The wait has been ‘’very stressful’’, she said.

After the referral, Jeffreys waited two months before getting back in touch with her doctor, who confirmed it had definitely been sent in.

‘’He said there would be a bit of a wait. The system’s getting worse.’’

At this point, Jeffreys was told the waiting list was 12 weeks, which meant she should have had the ultrasound mid-January.

But by the middle of April Jeffreys still hadn’t heard anything, so she called the DHB.

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‘’They can’t even give me a date. People referred in September still haven’t got a date.

‘’I was speaking to the booking lady, and she said people going private were not making a dent in the waiting list. I thought if I have to go private at least it will free up a space for someone else, but no.’’

But, she may still have to go private.

‘’What can I do? I’m just one annoying person who keeps writing to the DHB.’’

In an emailed response to questions, the TDHB said the wait for routine ultrasounds was just over four months.

The TDHB did not say how many people were waiting for a routine ultrasound, or how many people hadn’t even been able to get on the waiting list.

But it did say there were 1768 people in the priority group, not including maternity, waiting for an ultrasound. Waiting times varied.

TDHB chief operating officer Gillian Campbell said ultrasound referrals were prioritised and the wait times varied accordingly.

‘’For example an ultrasound referral where there is a high suspicion of cancer will be scanned within one week.’’

There is a longer wait than usual on routine scans due to the high demand on more urgent referrals, Campbell said.

‘’We aim to deliver a routine scan within six weeks, but currently this timeframe is not being achieved and our longest wait time is just over four months. At the moment the demand for ultrasound scans is very high, and we are faced with resource constraints (sonographers and facility equipment capacity).

The issue has been going on for a long time and the TDHB had recently outsourced a number of scans to private providers, Campbell said.

‘’We are again looking at the ability for the private providers in New Plymouth to be able to deliver some of this work on our behalf.’’

In terms of scans for pregnant women, 12 week or dating scans are being delivered on time and the 20-week scans are being done up to 21-22 weeks.

‘’There are 45 women waiting for their third trimester scan and these will be delivered on time. A number of women who live in South Taranaki often elect to go to Whanganui for their scans, but this is optional.’’



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