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Better data on electives by mid-year

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

6 March 2006 Media Statement

Better data on electives by mid-year

Improvements to the way elective surgery data is collected will be in place by mid-year, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

Pete Hodgson said that many surgical procedures are not currently being recorded in the official statistics due to advances in technology and practice that have seen fewer people technically admitted to hospital for elective procedures.

"The public deserves to have a clear picture of how many elective procedures are being carried out every year," Pete Hodgson said. "Further, the government needs to have a good understanding of how many procedures are being carried out if we're going to continue to improve our performance.

"Right now we have thousands of operations that are being carried out as out-patient procedures – this hasn't always been the case. The problem is that our information systems have not kept pace with these changes in clinical practice."

In the past, elective procedures including endoscopies and a number of ophthalmological operations required admission to hospital and were accordingly included in electives data. Changes to technology and practice have seen these services switch to outpatient procedures and as a result they have disappeared from elective surgery statistics.

"To address these problems my predecessor Annette King approved the creation of a national non-admitted patient collection database in September last year. Work has progressed well and the database will be up and running by 1 July.

"It will take some time for the database to begin to provide a better understanding of elective surgery numbers, but by this time next year there should be a much clearer picture."

The database will cost $5.2 million to create and an additional $2.8 million annually to operate.

ENDS

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