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Extra $200 million addressing elective surgery

Extra $200 million addressing elective surgery issues


More New Zealanders than ever will get elective surgery, with $200 million recently injected for elective procedures for 10,000 extra people over the next four years, says the Ministry of Health.

Initiatives were already underway to address particular shortages, for example hip and knee replacements and cataracts surgery, now these initiatives are extending to other elective services.

The Minister of Health has committed this additional funding because he is convinced that District Health Boards have made real progress in putting in place a booking system that delivers fairness for patients.

"There is strong evidence that those most in need are getting prioritised appropriately for publically-funded surgery," said Group Manager Julie Rodgers.

It is the aim of the booking system that people with the greatest need are treated as a priority and the whole system is designed to improve transparency.

"No particular conditions are "not treated" as claimed in a recent Consumer magazine article. Rather, the needs of an individual are assessed relative to the needs of others."

However, the way services have developed historically has led to better access in some parts of the country.

"It is time to fix this. Clinicians from all specialties are currently working on ways to ensure similar access to services across the country."

Ms Rodgers said the case studies used in the Consumer article do not demonstrate a problem with the elective services booking system.

"Cancelled operations would occur whether you have a booking system or not. Regrettably surgery does from time to time need to be postponed or cancelled due to a host of unrelated reasons such as the patient's health, unexpected demand for emergency services, staff illness and industrial action."

We need to remember that for every person who may have been referred back to their GP after being offered treatment there are 20 who are treated as planned, said Ms Rodgers.

For those people who aren't at the time able to access service in the public sector, the Ministry's work to improve clarity in the booking system will help them make an informed choice about alternative treatment options, said Ms Rodgers.

Although the Government's focus is on access to publically funded services, we do have a well-established and competent private sector which patients may choose to use.

ENDS

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