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Pledge No 6: Cataract and major joint operations

16 August 2005

Labour's Key Election Pledges

No 6: Cataract and major joint operations

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced Labour's sixth election pledge: to fund 7500 extra cataract operations and 10,000 extra major joint procedures over the next three years. The pledge will be guaranteed on Labour’s pledge card.

Helen Clark announced the pledge at the Grey Power meeting in Motueka.

"Over the past three years, there have been around 16,500 major joint procedures such as hip and knee replacements. Under Labour, there will be over 26,500 major joint procedures in the three years from 1 July," Helen Clark said.

"In the past three years there have been close to 24,000 cataract operations performed. Under Labour, there will be up to 31,500 cataract operations over the next three years.

"Cataract operations dramatically improve the quality of life for those needing surgery. As the number of operations performed increases, we will be helping many thousands more New Zealanders regain their independence each and every year.

"We also know that major joint procedures, such as hip and knee replacements, have a huge impact on the health and lives of recipients, by restoring mobility and reducing pain. Joint disease is common in New Zealand, especially in older people. Research suggests that around half of those aged over sixty suffer arthritis or a related condition, and by 65, more than half the population has X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint."

Helen Clark said hip and knee replacement operations are universally accepted as the most effective treatment for advanced osteoarthritis of the hip and knee joints.

"With New Zealand’s population ageing, the need for major joint procedures will continue to increase.

"When the Government launched its orthopaedic project in 2004, the average intervention rate in New Zealand (in the public sector) for major joint replacements was 1.2 per 1000 people, compared to rates of 1.9 in Australia, 2.3 in the United Kingdom and 2.6 in Sweden. We expect our rate to be at least 2.4 - in the top league internationally - by 2007-08.

"When this policy is fully implemented, we will be helping many more thousands of New Zealanders with major joint procedures each and every year.

"Funding this commitment to increase the cumulative number of cataract operations by 7500 and major joint procedures by 10,000 will cost more than $200 million over the three years," Helen Clark said.


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