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More Heart Surgery Operations Available For SI

More Heart Surgery Operations Available For South Island

Health Minister Annette King says extra funding of $2 million will mean 100 more heart surgery operations a year for South Island patients from July.

Announcing the funding today, Ms King said South Island patients had not had a fair deal. "I want to make sure people in the South Island get fairer access to heart surgery and do not have to face undue delays. This extra funding means there will be increased certainty for South Island heart patients."

Ms King said Heart Surgery South Island Limited now provided heart surgery in Christchurch and Dunedin for South Island patients on behalf of Canterbury and Otago DHBs, but the institute was likely to become redundant in the new District Health Board environment.

“The extra funding will go to Canterbury and Otago DHBs from July, and the boards will be able to increase the number of heart operations each year from 550 to 650. The increase is a long-term fix. This new funding will now be part of the baseline funding each year so the boards can plan properly.

“I want to emphasise, because the National Party has been peddling false information without any regard for patient and staff concerns, that the Government, the Ministry of Health and the two DHBs are committed to the concept of one South Island heart surgery service spread over two sites in Christchurch and Dunedin.”

Ms King said there would still be an interim period while Canterbury and Otago worked to reduce the current backlog of operations. “The Ministry is working with the boards to address this issue.

"One option is to use spare heart surgery capacity in some Wellington and Auckland private facilities. Between them they have said they could do 34 operations a month, but it would be better all round for patients and their families if the operations could be done in public or private facilities in the South Island.

“That is an issue for the two boards and clinicians to resolve together. If it is necessary for patients to move north, cost will not be an issue. Patient interests must be put first. Patients who need urgent treatment must receive it.”


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