Some outpatient health appointments are being postponed and vaccination centres are being wound up as Canterbury District Health Board deal with staffing shortages due to covid.
As positive community covid case numbers grow, more health staff were contracting covid and having to isolate or are in household contacts or need to look after whanau with covid.
Canterbury’s Covid-19 emergency co-ordination centre controller Dr Helen Skinner said as of this week the health board was 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.
The impact of Omicron has also led to re-prioritisation of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“We need to maximise limited staffing resources and focus our resource on reaching priority areas and at-risk populations where booster uptake and children immunisation is lagging behind,” Dr Skinner said.
“Planning for mobile or outreach vaccination events over the next three to four weeks has started.
“We will also continue to work closely with our primary care, Pasifika and Māori providers to support their resourcing needs so they can continue to deliver vaccinations.”
Two DHB-run vaccination sites in Christchurch were due to close; the Christchurch Arena Drive-Through and Orchard Road Vaccination Centre.
But there were still more than 140 primary care clinics continuing to deliver vaccinations across Canterbury.
The existing RAT collection site at the Christchurch Arena will continue to operate.
Dr Skinner said some outpatient appointments have also been postponed this week. Many had already been switched to virtual consults and are carried out over the phone or by video call but there were more in-person appointments that had been affected.
People who are affected by surgery or outpatient appointments being deferred will be contacted by phone.
“If you haven’t bee contacted by us, please assume your appointment or surgery is going ahead.”
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,” she said.
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.