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Pipelle biopsies to be provided by GPs in NZ's Southern District

Women in New Zealand's Southern district requiring pipelle biopsies - a key investigative tool for finding the cause of post-menopausal bleeding and screening for endometrial cancers – now have faster and easier access to the procedure thanks to a collaboration between clinicians from Southern DHB and WellSouth, and Southern HealthPathways.

Specially-trained primary care physicians can now carry out this gynaecological test, which involves taking a small sample of the uterine lining from a woman experiencing abnormal bleeding, rather than having to refer patients for specialist appointments.

Providing pipelle biopsies in the GP surgery, instead of requiring a trip to hospital, is not only more convenient for patients but also frees up specialist appointment slots with the gynaecology service.

“By not having to be referred to a specialist, patients can be tested faster and results provided sooner, which is very reassuring for everyone involved,” says Dr Peter Gent, Dunedin GP and Clinical Leader Primary Care for Southern HealthPathways.

This new model of care was first implemented in Canterbury in 2009 and facilitated by the Canterbury HealthPathways website. The Southern HealthPathways localised pathway provides specific guidelines on provision of the service in general practice, follow-up procedures, and relevant information, including ‘red flags’ that local practitioners should be mindful of.

In addition to performing the pipelle biopsy, specially-trained GPs are responsible for receiving results and informing the patient of those results, as well as monitoring or referring on the patient if further treatment is required.

WellSouth is facilitating training sessions for GPs already trained to provide IUD/IUS insertions across the Southern district.  The WellSouth team have worked to operationalise this pathway and facilitate a smooth process for the primary care clinicians and their patients. 

“It is fantastic to get this type of service available in the community, within primary care, to facilitate easier access for women,” says Katrina Braxton, WellSouth Clinical Services Manager. “Women will be able to access the service either from their own general practice or by referral to another general practitioner with special interest (GPSI).”

Southern DHB Chief Medical Officer Dr Nigel Millar said conducting pipelle biopsies in general practice is better for the patient and for the health system: “This collaborative approach is another example of our whole-of-system view of the health service and we’re progressing our goals of providing care closer to home, valuing patient time, and making best use of resources."

Source: Southern Way, Southern District Health Board, Friday, 27 January 2017

Photo credit: People photograph designed by Javi_indy -