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11,500 extra joint replacements recognised

20 October

Orthopaedic surgeons recognise Ministry of Health’s 11,500 extra joint replacements

A key surgical body has expressed gratitude on behalf of over 11,500 extra patients who received hip or knee joint replacements between July 2004 and July 2008 thanks to dedicated funding by the Ministry of Health’s ‘National Joint Initiative’.

Speaking at the opening of the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association (NZOA) annual scientific meeting in Hastings today, President John Matheson said those patients, who would not have had their surgeries without the extra funding, peaked at 5,000 in the July 07 to July 08 year, effectively doubling the number of procedures that would otherwise have occurred in that period.

He said the NZOA, which is a professional body of 185 orthopaedic surgeons, was grateful that over 11,500 people now enjoyed a substantially better quality of life.

“Joint replacements offer perhaps the greatest improvement in quality of life of any surgical procedure available today,” he said. “The NZOA has worked very closely with the Ministry on the National Joint Initiative, meeting quarterly and reviewing progress in each DHB. It is an excellent example of how a professional association can work closely with the Ministry and DHBs for the benefit of the public.”

Mr Matheson pointed to recent American research, the largest of its kind, which found that there is no age limit on the benefits of hip replacement for patients. Total hip replacement was found to be as beneficial to people in their 80s or 90s as for people in their 60s.

Researchers found that total hip replacements provide a major cost saving to the health system because reimbursement for the procedure proved less costly than the long-term cost of health care for the disabled.

Around 65 papers are being presented at the NZOA three-day scientific meeting which is being attended by the presidents of orthorpaedic surgeons’ associations from Australia, United Kingdom, United States, France and South Africa.


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