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Orthopaedic Surgeons Welcome Funding Boost

Wed, 26 May 2004

May 26 2004

Orthopaedic Surgeons Welcome Funding Boost

Many New Zealanders with arthritic conditions will benefit from the $70 million funding boost for orthopaedic surgery announced today by the Government, says the body representing orthopaedic surgeons, the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association.

NZOA President, Mr. Barry Tietjens, says the NZOA welcomes the Government's announcement of such a substantial and sustainable funding boost. He says the initiative is good news for those who had waited too long for treatment or who had been unable to receive treatment due to lengthy waiting lists. "New Zealand lags behind other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom in our low treatment rate for people with musculo-skeletal conditions," he said. "The Government's approach of setting a clear target and progressively funding this over a number of years significantly increases the chances of successfully sustaining this effort."

The NZOA had collaborated with the Ministry of Health on the initiative, which had been strongly influenced by research carried out by the NZOA last year into the effect of the ageing population on orthopaedic conditions and the release of a report "The Ageing of New Zealand."

The report, presented by the immediate past president of the NZOA, Professor Geoffrey Horne, highlighted the predicted burden on the health system generated by the over 60s, who are expected to comprise just under one in three New Zealanders by 2051.

"Musculo-skeletal problems are directly linked to increasing age," said Professor Horne. "As the numbers of elderly and their longevity increases, greater numbers of surgical interventions such as hip and knee replacements will be required and the numbers disabled by arthritis and osteoporosis will significantly increase."

Mr. Tietjens says that increasing orthopaedic services was not just dependent on orthopaedic surgeons. The full engagement and support of District Health Board management and clinicians was crucial to the success of the initiative.


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