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Minister Renews Mobile Surgical Services Contract

Minister Renews Mobile Surgical Services Contract For Five Years

Minister of Health Annette King has agreed to renew the Mobile Surgical Services contract with the Ministry of Health for a further five years.

Her decision builds on the $18 million the Government has so far invested in the service between 1 October 2001 and 28 February this year. The contract will continue to be managed by the Ministry.

Following a meeting with the director of Mobile Surgical Services, Dr Stuart Gowland, Ms King said the service was performing well. It had been readily accepted by rural communities throughout the country, she said, but she is keen to ensure a continuity of service for those rural communities.

"The provision of day cases in rural areas is now well established, with significant improvements in time and convenience for patients who would otherwise have to travel considerable distances, sometimes including an overnight stay."

Ms King was particularly impressed with the success at delivering services to Maori. "Approximately 26 percent of the patients treated on the bus are Maori, whereas about 18 percent of the New Zealand population living outside urban centres are Maori," she said.

While the Mobile Surgical Service is performing above its contracted number of surgical procedures, Ms King would like to see a greater take-up of the telepresence facility.

"The bus has state-of-the-art telepresence facilities to enable more advanced surgical care for people closer to their homes," she said.

"I want to ensure that clinicians and District Health Boards understand the importance of this service. Telecommunications, facilitated by the mobile bus, not only helps support rural practitioners and nurses but provides huge scope for the sharing of information and new technologies across boundaries."

Mobile Surgical Services enjoys a good working relationship with most DHBs and has to date operated in 17 of them, Ms King said.

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