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Public-Private Collaboration for Waiting Lists

19 April 2006
Media Release

Greater Public-Private Healthcare Collaboration Could Help Alleviate Waiting Lists

Southern Cross Healthcare says private healthcare providers can better collaborate with the public sector to reduce waiting lists for elective surgery. The private healthcare sector already performs more than twice as many elective surgeries than the public system and has the capacity to do more.

Recent figures show that 96,000 elective surgeries were performed in the public health sector in 2005. This compares to 108,930 surgical procedures funded by Southern Cross health insurance.

Southern Cross conservatively estimates that in total around 180,000 elective surgical operations were funded by private health insurers last year and a further 40,000-50,000 were funded by other sources.

Southern Cross Healthcare Group Chief Executive, Dr Ian McPherson says, “While resources in one part of the health system are stretched, parts of the private healthcare system have spare capacity. Southern Cross Hospitals already collaborate by performing some elective surgery on behalf of many DHBs, but definitely have the capacity to do more."

On average, only four per cent of elective surgery undertaken at Southern Cross Hospitals in 2005 was funded by local DHBs. Yet Dr McPherson says, Southern Cross’ Hospitals still have spare bed occupancy.

“Some elective operations, such as hip and knee replacements, could be moved to private hospitals - drastically reducing waiting times without significantly increasing the cost.”

“The Government should use private providers to perform elective surgery where it is more efficient than the public system. Public hospitals can focus on the acute care which they are experts at, and private hospitals on the elective surgery – this is our specialty.”


While there’s likely to be some differences in the way that surgical procedures are classified between the public and private sectors, this data provides a guide to the relative volumes undertaken in each sector.

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