ENT surgery waiting times for Waikato children halved thanks to Braemar Charitable Trust

We fund many charitable activities, including free community surgeries, with the aim of improving overall health in the Waikato region. Many surgeons and anaesthetists who are credentialed to work at Braemar Hospital donate their time, free, and the hospital and trust cover other costs for the surgeries.

Recent ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeries for children organised by Braemar Charitable Trust have halved the waiting time for those Waikato children. Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora wants all children waiting for treatment, including grommets, tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies, to be seen within 12 months or less by 30 June 2024 as they work towards their target of no patients waiting longer than four months for treatment.

 Since April 2023, the Braemar Community Surgery Programme has provided free surgeries for 41 Waikato children, reducing the average waiting time from 12 months to five months for other children still on the public list. Up to 6 more children will be seen before the end of May through the collaboration.

 Braemar Charitable Trust has worked closely with Waikato Hospital’s ENT department on this aspect of its Community Surgery Programme. Andrew Wood, Head of ENT at Waikato Hospital, is also a Credentialed Specialist and Medical Associate at Braemar Hospital. He is a strong supporter of Braemar Charitable Trust’s work to enhance health outcomes in the region.

 “We know the importance of these operations for children in terms of setting them up for learning and for life. We also all know about the pressures on the public health system so I’ve been very pleased to be able to work with the Braemar Charitable Trust to help treat some of the children on the Waikato Hospital list. It’s really making a difference, both to the children getting the operations at Braemar and others who will now receive quicker attention in the public system.”

 Dr Wood and his ENT team use the New Zealand Deprivation Index to select children for the free surgeries; youngsters with the highest need are chosen first. Braemar Charitable Trust Manager Paula Baker says not only have the 41 children had their procedures earlier, removing them from the public waiting list means other children can be treated more quickly at Waikato Hospital.

“We believe it’s a win-win situation for everyone and we are so very pleased to have the support of surgeons and anaesthetists, and Waikato Hospital’s ENT department, for this important work. We appreciate how much pressure is on the public system and these collaborations all help ensure these children are getting a good start in life.”

 Ms Baker says most people in the region don’t realise Braemar Hospital is owned by a charitable trust that funds activities to improve health equity.  “We have 200 specialists who are credentialed to work at Braemar Hospital and many of them donate their time for community surgeries such as these. Many specialists working in the public system apply to be credentialed at Braemar Hospital specifically so they can support us in free surgeries – which speaks to the importance of our work for our community.”

 The Trust’s Community Surgery Programme covers other specialties, including paediatric dental, plastic, oral and general surgeries. The programme is aimed at people who have been declined or are facing considerable wait times for surgery in the public system, and who do not have health insurance, ACC nor the financial means to pay for private treatment. Being part of the Community Surgery Programme means they can get back to contributing to work, family and community life.

 The Trust works with iwi providers and community-based organisations, PHOs and Waikato Hospital who refer patients to the programme. Surgeons and anaesthetists provide the free procedures by either adding the patients to an existing private list they are already performing at Braemar Hospital, or they provide a dedicated half-day community surgery list. Braemar Hospital provides consumable items at cost, and the Trust covers other costs such as surgical items, consumables, drugs and nursing care.