September 1, 2008
Hospital Loses Skin Specialist; Dr Singh Retires After 33 Years’ Work in New Plymouth
By HUMPHREYS, Lyn
AN OUTSPOKEN New Plymouth advocate for the return of medically- skilled managers to run public hospitals has retired.
Malaysian-born Jaswan Singh, 65, retired from hospital work in June after 33 years in New Plymouth, most of which have been spent treating Taranaki skin complaints.
He left New Plymouth in 1972 to train as a dermatologist in Cambridge, England, returning to take up the specialty in 1977.
Dr Singh has championed the move for the management of the public health system to be returned to the control of the medically- trained.
"When I first came the hospital was run by Mr Donald King, who was the superintendent and a surgeon. Since those times, things have gone downhill because there are now more administrators than doctors," he said.
"And they don't listen to what we say because they think they know better than us."
He regrets that his resignation now leaves Taranaki Base Hospital without a skin specialist -- as is the case in many of the other regional hospitals across New Zealand.
However, Dr Singh is continuing in his private practice at Nobs Line.
At the recent TDHB meeting, chief executive Tony Foulkes officially thanked Dr Singh for his many years of service.
Dr Singh continues to be a strong advocate for Taranaki people to protect their skin and ensure they have regular checks for cancers.
New Zealand, Australia and the Falkland Islands have the highest rates of melanoma in the world. Taranaki people are among those most at risk, he says.
"Taranaki has very intense sunlight and the wind makes it four times more damaging because it dries out the skin and makes it more vulnerable."
Many people were unaware that sunblock takes 30 minutes to work, so it should be applied half an hour before exposing skin to the sun.
Sunblock should also be used throughout winter, he said.
"Today the burn time is 18 minutes."
Regular skin-checks are a must.
"Something that grows that shouldn't be there needs to be diagnosed. Most I treat on the spot."
For more complex surgery he refers his patients to Auckland micrographic surgeon Kevin McKerrow. "He is very skilled."
Dr Singh says the most exciting development in the control of the most deadly of skin cancers, melanoma, is a vaccine expected to be available in three to five years.
While he says he would love to retire in his country of birth, after all these years his home is now here with his wife, Delwyn, whom he met and married in New Plymouth.
"I see it as home now," Dr Singh said.
The couple has three children, Rohan, Suraya and Sanjay and "4 1/ 2 grandchildren".
(c) 2008 Daily News; New Plymouth, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.