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Budget 2005: $17 million for extra cataract ops

Budget 2005 $17 million for extra cataract operations

The Government will spend an extra $17 million over the next three years in providing a total of up to 7500 more cataracts operations.

Helen Clark and Annette King made the announcement today as they viewed a live cataract operation beamed into Annette King’s Beehive office from the mobile surgical bus in Kapiti.

Helen Clark said the new funding would see, by 2008, a 50 per cent increase on the number of cataract operations being performed now.

“This new cataract initiative is a logical follow-up to the orthopaedics initiative we announced in the Budget last year. Both initiatives are designed to dramatically improve the quality of life for thousands more older New Zealanders,” Helen Clark said.

Annette King said funding will be phased in over three years as capacity is increased to perform the extra operations.

“Currently we are performing about 8000 operations a year, and the aim is to perform an extra 1050 operations in 2005-06, up to 2500 extra in 2006-07, and to reach an extra 4000 operations a year by 2007-08. By then we aim to be performing 12,000 operations a year, a 50 percent increase on what is being done now,” Annette King said.

Annette King said an extra $2.67 million (all figures are gst exclusive) will be provided for the initiative in 2005-06, rising to $5.78 million in 2006-07 and $8.71 million in 2007-08.

“The Ministry of Health is setting up a working group, involving ophthalmologists, optometrists, and District Health Board and Ministry representatives, to find efficient and innovative ways of enabling even greater volumes of cataract surgery than planned to be carried out both over the next three years and subsequent to that.

“The mobile bus is one example of innovative practice, and I expect to see others develop around the country in response to the cataract initiative. “As well as Government commitment, we need the goodwill of health professionals, and I am delighted at the support we are receiving,” Annette King said.

Funding for the cataract project will be allocated to DHBs on a population basis. DHBs are expected to use their own facilities as the first option, those of neighbouring DHBs if more capacity is needed, and private facilities when required.

Helen Clark said when the cataract initiative is fully implemented, there will be more equal access to services around the country.

“For example, DHBs will be encouraged to consider using the mobile bus, particularly to improve access for those living in rural areas, for the elderly and those people who find transport difficult to arrange,” Helen Clark said.

“We are achieving equality of access with the orthopaedics project as well, and both initiatives illustrate this Government’s commitment to building a fair and inclusive society.”

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