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Starship Paediatric Respiratory Services

Public Service, Respiratory, Paediatrics


What is Respiratory Paediatrics?
Respiratory paediatricians have specialised knowledge and skills in the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of children’s chest and lung problems. These include children with:
  • lung damage after premature birth
  • congenital lung and airway problems
  • severe pneumonia and its complications
  • chronic scarring of the lung (bronchiectasis)
  • cystic fibrosis
  • complex immunological disorders affecting the lung
  • disorders of breathing during sleep
  • those who require long term mechanical support for their breathing.

The Starship Respiratory Department provides care for children from all over New Zealand. This is usually in conjunction with a general paediatrician in the child’s home region. The department is made up of a multi-disciplinary team of nurses, physiologists, physiotherapists, dietitians, speech and language specialists and administrative staff in addition to the doctors.

We also assess children for paediatric lung transplantation, which requires referral by us to a service in Melbourne, Australia.

Some children with a primary (main) illness affecting a different organ system (e.g. joints, immune system, heart, nervous system etc) can have additional lung problems that also require support from specialist respiratory paediatricians working alongside the child’s primary specialist.


Referral Expectations

The department provides specialist respiratory paediatric care for children across New Zealand with complex or severe lung problems. For the vast majority of children we see, this care is provided in conjunction with a local general paediatric specialist. We usually do not accept referrals from a general practitioner (GP), and require that a child has been initially assessed by a local general paediatrician. However, there are some circumstances that mean a direct referral from a GP is appropriate (e.g. if a child moves into the area with a known diagnosis of cystic fibrosis). If there is thought to be any unusual circumstances to bypass an initial general paediatrician referral the GP should write to the Respiratory Department setting out the previously established diagnosis.

Some of the reasons for referral to a respiratory paediatrician are listed below. Follow the associated links to kidshealth.org.nz for further information.


PLEASE NOTE: Frequent chest infections are very common in childhood, and usually do not mean a child has a serious underlying problem. Some symptoms are important however e.g.:

  • coughing most days even when the child doesn’t have a temperature or runny nose
  • regularly coughing up green or yellow sputum (phlegm or mucus)
  • wheezing even when well, or wheezing that doesn’t go away after taking Ventolin
  • exercise ability reduced by shortness of breath, when compared to others of the same age
  • increasing shortness of breath over the last few weeks or months.

If your child has any of these symptoms, or if you are worried that your child may have a problem with their lungs, you should see your GP. He or she can then refer you to a paediatric specialist who can review your child more carefully, and perhaps perform some further tests. If the general paediatrician confirms a problem, or would like a second opinion, he/she can then refer your child to a specialist respiratory paediatrician.


Once your child’s referral is accepted, an appointment time will be sent directly to you. If the date offered is not suitable for you, please contact the clinic schedulers on the phone number given on the right, and arrange a different date. If you do not attend the appointment given without notifying us you will be offered one more appointment. If you don’t attend that second appointment you will be referred back to your local paediatrician, and no further appointments will be sent.

For urgent conditions your child may be admitted directly to hospital rather than waiting for a clinic appointment.

If you receive an appointment you will need to go to Outpatients on Level 3 of Starship Children's Hospital where your child will be assessed by specialised doctors. This usually takes an hour or two in total including additional tests done on the day.

Recommendations and options regarding your child's future treatment plan will be discussed with you. You should bring with you to the appointment:

  • Any letters or reports from your doctor or another hospital
  • Any X-Rays, CT or MRI films and reports
  • All medicines your child is currently taking including herbal and natural remedies
  • Your child's pharmaceutical entitlement card.

At the clinic you will be seen by either the consultant or the registrar, who will discuss your child with the consultant at the time, or after the clinic. If your child is old enough they may need to do some lung function tests before being seen by the doctors (see Procedures and Treatments below).


Outpatient Clinics for the Paediatric Respiratory service are held on the following days and times:

Cystic Fibrosis clinic: Wednesday mornings.

Sleep clinic: Wednesday mornings, Thursday afternoons, Friday Mornings

Bronchiectasis clinic Tuesday mornings

General Respiratory clinic: Thursday afternoons or Friday mornings

Procedures / Treatments

  • Lung Function Tests

    If your child is able to (usually after the age of 5 or 6) they may be asked to perform a lung function test (spirometry) when they attend.… More

  • Chest X-Ray

    It is very likely your child will have already had chest X-Rays before being seen.… More

  • CT Scans

    Sometimes more detail is needed in imaging your child’s chest.… More

  • Sputum Microbiology

    If your child regularly coughs up sputum (also called mucus or phlegm), the doctors may want to take a sample of this to see if any particular organisms are growing in it.… More

  • Flexible Bronchoscopy

    In occasional cases, it may be recommended that a flexible bronchoscopy is performed.… More

  • Sleep Studies

    Some children can have a problem of breathing that is more severe when they are asleep.… More


  Assoc Prof Cass Byrnes Respiratory Paediatrician
  Dr Liz Edwards Respiratory Paediatrician and Sleep Specialist
  Dr David McNamara Respiratory Paediatrician and Sleep Specialist, Clinical Leader
  Dr Anna Mulholland Respiratory Paediatrician, Sleep Specialist
  Dr Naveen Pillarisetti Respiratory Paediatrician
  Dr Jacob Twiss Respiratory Paediatrician, Sleep Specialist
  Dr Julian Vyas Respiratory Paediatrician
  Respiratory Laboratory  
  Cathy Douglas Charge Physiologist
  Karen Coertze Physiologist
  Anita Trudgen Physiologist
  Famida Nisha Physiologist
  Ian Simperingham Physiologist
  Roopa Thakker Physiologist
  Laura Young Physiologist
  Christopher Lorilla Physiologist
  Marie Lorilla Physiologist
  Bronchiectasis Clinic  
  Mapui Tangi Nurse Specialist
  Cystic Fibrosis Clinic  
  Jan Tate Nurse Specialist
  Rebecca Scoones Physiotherapist
  Jenny Heyward Dietitian
  Denise Rew  Longterm ventilation Nurse Specialist
    Respiratory Dept Team Support and Clinical Administration Clerk
  - Scheduler

Contact Details

For Respiratory Department Team Support, phone  (09) 307 4949 ext 22245

For the Respiratory Clinic, Bronchoscopy and Sleep Study Scheduler phone our scheduler on (09) 307 4949 ext 22491

2 Park Road
Auckland 1023

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Street Address

2 Park Road
Auckland 1023

Postal Address

Starship Child Health
Private Bag 92 024
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

This page was last updated at 12:53PM on July 7, 2021. This information is reviewed and edited by Starship Paediatric Respiratory Services.