One in 16 Needing Elective Surgery
Action Required on the One in 16
December 22, 2013
A major report that shows one in 16 New Zealanders currently need elective surgery should be urgently addressed by the Government.
An estimated 280,000 New Zealanders require elective surgery according to a report released in December by the Health Funds Association and the Private Surgical Hospitals Association.
The comprehensive report surveyed 1830 people and is the first glimpse into unmet elective surgical needs in over a decade. One of its most critical findings is that nearly two-thirds of the people needing elective surgery, as diagnosed by their health professional, are not even making the waiting list.
The CEO of Accuro Health Insurance, Geoff Annals, said the report makes for sober reading and needs to be urgently addressed by the Government and the Ministry of Health.
“These aren’t just statistics. These are 280,000 cases of people living in discomfort and unable to participate fully in life. And 170,000 of these New Zealanders aren’t even placed on the waiting list,” he says.
“Unless they belong to a health fund or are one of the few who have sufficient personal funds to meet the cost of surgery themselves, they simply have to grin and bear it.
“The survey also identifies the huge economic cost to the country from people unable to work due to illness or absenteeism.”
Geoff Annals has a lot of admiration for New Zealand’s public health system having spent 20 years as a DHB senior manager but says too often our hospitals are overwhelmed with urgent and acute admissions leaving them unable to effectively handle the hundreds of people waiting for elective surgery.
He says too often cases are dropped from public waiting lists because DHB resources are fully committed meeting the immediate need for acute treatment and can’t simultaneously meet the Government’s requirement for elective surgery.
He argues that better integration of public and private health resources is required to reduce the intolerable burden of unmet need affecting one in 16 New Zealanders.
“New Zealand’s health resources must be considered as one whole - public and private - combined resource to be used to the best advantage of all New Zealanders,” Geoff says.
“Community based health insurers and private hospitals are ready to step up to the challenges involved in delivering a properly integrated and more effective, national elective surgical system.
“The predicament faced by the many thousands of New Zealanders who are desperately seeking an early return to health, demands our urgent attention,” he concludes.
Geoff believes it’s time for action and intends to seek widespread support from the private sector to take a case to the Government in the New Year.