Media advisory #32 Non-urgent surgeries re-started at Whanganui Hospital


1 May 2020


With New Zealand moving to Alert Level 3, Whanganui District Health Board is gradually resuming working routines and catching up on deferred surgeries and procedures.


“We have cautiously started elective surgery and non-urgent specialist appointments from Tuesday, 28 April,” Chief Medical Officer Dr Ian Murphy says.


“This will be a slow build-up of elective surgery cases, firstly involving non-complex procedures in patients under 70 without co-morbidities.


“We are using an acuity index which seeks to blend the requirements of those who are the most urgent and those who have already waited the longest so we can be as fair as possible to all.”


Under Alert Level 4, elective surgeries considered urgent continued at Whanganui Hospital, and this included cancer-related cases.


“We also dealt with situations where not taking action would likely see the patient re-presenting at their GP or at the Emergency Department within three months,” said Dr Murphy.


However, non-essential cases were deferred as the hospital prepared its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.


Dr Murphy said the hospital was now working at about 60 per cent of normal capacity. “We are looking to progressively build this up in the coming weeks,” he said.


“We are not undertaking complex procedures; procedures in over 70s; or procedures for those with significant co-morbidities. We are mindful of still being in level 3 and we need to reduce the chances of people requiring prolonged inpatient or intensive care stays after an operation in case the hospital suddenly needs to be ready to respond to a further COVID outbreak.


“It’s about being as safe as possible for all.”


In Alert Level 3, visiting restrictions at the hospital remain the same as during the lockdown.


That is: One visitor only is able to visit those in hospital at end-stage of life, in the Critical Care Unit, in the Maternity Unit or in the Children’s Ward. All visitors must be part of the patient’s bubble.


Other hospital information

· Outpatient Department: Some appointments may be through a phone call. If there is any change to an appointment, the patient will be contacted by one of the team. The Outpatients Department has temporarily moved to Te Whare Kakariki (Block E). If people have any concerns about their appointment, they should call 06 348 1234.


· Medlab and blood tests: Phone ahead to Medlab on 06 3481270 or 06 3488949 and arrangements will be made for the test.


· Radiology: The radiology department has temporarily closed its walk-in service. If people need an urgent X-ray or other radiology treatment, they will be referred by their GP, and then contacted by the radiology department for an appointment.


People who are sick should call their GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453, or visit a community-based assessment centre. For further information on COVID-19, go to