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Thousands of Waikato people have elective operations

27 August 2013

Thousands of Waikato people have elective operations

Surgeons, booking clerks, anaesthetists and those who work in Waikato District Health Board’s theatres and ward settings have today come in for huge praise for delivering nearly 15,000 elective surgeries in the past year.

The result placed Waikato DHB third equal in the improved access to elective surgery health target released by the Ministry of Health.

Waikato DHB had 14,925 discharges – 1916 more than planned – in the 12 months from 1 July 2012. For the 12 months starting 1 July 2013, the plan is to deliver 13,231 operations.

Waikato DHB chief operating officer Jan Adams said it was a “phenomenal result.”

“It is a reflection of the enormously hard work our people are doing. It is full credit to them,” she said.

“Right across all of our surgical disciplines, all our departments are performing extremely well.

We have produced as much elective surgery through our hospitals as we were producing through all of the private hospitals in Hamilton and Waikato Hospital two years ago.

“Four years ago we had 12,402 elective discharges. What this year’s numbers show is an increase in the way we are using our theatres and resources at Waikato DHB.”

The performance above plan has largely resulted from the need to meet the six-month wait target and to reduce waiting times to five months by the end of June 2013.

There were 34 inpatients and 81 outpatients waiting more than five months at the end of June, a significant reduction from the March waiting times where 256 patients were waiting more than five months.

Elective surgery also occurs at Thames Hospital and private facilities in South Auckland and Hamilton.

"We are disappointed there were that many people waiting and one of the other reasons for that was the impact of acute demand on our theatres - we had for example an additional 69 days operating theatre time for acute orthopaedic surgery.

"The recent figures out of the ACC which showed that the Waikato region had more car accidents and subsequently claims than any other region explains the acute orthopaedic demand," said Mrs Adams.

"To achieve the target, while in the middle of a $500 million rebuild programme, meant to ensure our population got access to their elective surgery, we had to call on others for help.

“We worked closely with other hospitals in the Midland region – 139 people had operations at Lakes DHB for example.

“But it’s not just surgical services seeing more work – medicine for example has seen a big increase in acute presentations because more patients are presenting to our emergency departments. The Older Persons’ service is seeing increasing numbers also,” said Mrs Adams.

Elective services are medical or surgical services, which will improve quality of life for someone suffering from a significant medical condition, but that can be delayed because they are not required immediately.

As the regional provider, Waikato DHB undertakes complex surgery for Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Tairawhiti and Taranaki DHBs as well as a range of other tertiary services such as renal and cancer services.

Access to surgery is dependent on the availability of resources and on the patient being “fit for surgery”. Some patients present with an illness at an advanced stage because they may not have accessed primary care early enough.

Patients may also have co-morbidities, a number of complex and associated diseases such as diabetes, vascular, eye and renal, which may delay their surgery.


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