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National signals major assault on waiting lists

6 September 2005

Paul Hutchison MP National Party Health Spokesman

National signals major assault on elective surgery waiting lists

National will commit an additional one-off $100 million three-year package to slash the approximately 20,000 backlog of patients in high priority elective surgery categories, says National's Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

National announced its Health Policy in New Plymouth today.

"Right now there are nearly 180,000 patients waiting for surgery. Almost 61,000 patients are lined up in the booking system, split into a variety of waiting lists. These patients sit in categories such as Active Review, Booked, Given Certainty, Residual, and Rebooked," says Dr Hutchison.

"Behind these statistics are tens of thousands of anxious New Zealanders and their families, distraught that, having paid their taxes, the health system cannot provide for them in their time of need.

"The additional $100 million will slash the backlog of patients in these categories - for example, those who have been given a commitment to treatment but not treated within six months, those on active review who have not been assessed within six months, and those without a commitment to treatment whose priorities are higher than the usual treatment threshold.

"National's new commitment of a $100 million injection is over and above the current 'cataract' and 'orthopaedic' initiatives that Labour recently announced. We recognise that to dramatically reduce the waiting lists we will need to put in place the necessary capacity. That is why this is a three-year package - we will work with the sector to ensure we get the maximum value for money from this extra funding.

"The funding for this major assault on elective surgery waiting lists will come from the additional $1 billion in revenue projected in the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update.

"This funding will be contestable between the public and private sector, based on quality and price, although we would expect the bulk of it to be used within the public sector," says Dr Hutchison.

ENDS

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