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Hospitals handle 20 per cent rise in medical cases

8 March 2006

Hospitals handle 20 per cent rise in medical cases

New Zealand's public hospitals are handling nearly 20 per cent more medical cases than they were in 2000 according to figures released by Health Minister Pete Hodgson today.

The increase in publicly funded medical discharges comes alongside increases in both general surgical and elective procedure numbers. The increase in overall volumes has also coincided with significant increases in the number of complex procedures being carried out.

"A thriving public health system is central to the Labour-led government's commitment to New Zealand families," Pete Hodgson said. "As we focus more of our energy on primary health and prevention, we want to see less pressure on our public hospitals.

"That shift won't happen overnight and we should all be pleased that in the interim hospitals continue to perform strongly. More people are getting medical treatment than they were six years ago, more surgeries are being performed and more New Zealanders are getting the elective procedures they need."

Highlights from the figures released today include:

- Medical discharges: 48,860 more medical discharges in 2005 than in 2000, an increase of 19.9 per cent over five years
- Surgical discharges: 9.7 per cent increase in the case-weighted discharge rate – overall numbers up as complexity of procedures increases
- Elective discharges: 12.6 per cent increase in the case-weighted discharge rate – hospitals appear to be handling more overall procedures and more complex procedures as thousands of operations switch to outpatient

"Our public hospital staff are always under incredible pressure and have to deal with intense scrutiny from the public, but it's clear that they are still getting the job done.

"It's also true that our performance still isn't good enough. We still have too many people in need of treatment that we're not able to get too. The government has pledged big increases in joint and cataract procedures and we're committed to working with surgical staff to make sure New Zealanders get the treatment they need."

ENDS

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