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Minister signals major work to improve electives

30 June 2006

Minister signals major work to improve electives

The financial year that begins tomorrow will see a major work programme to encourage effectiveness and innovation in elective services, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

In a key speech on cost-effectiveness in the health system, the Minister made public a report on disincentives in elective services that points to significant issues about the interface between primary and secondary health care.

"The number of New Zealanders receiving elective procedures has increased significantly under Labour," Pete Hodgson said. "But people elect Labour governments to continually improve health services and electives is an area where we still have more to do.

"Over the last six months it has become clear that a number of barriers are standing in the way of effectiveness and innovation. For example, if a particular surgical service develops an innovative way to treat more patients that also saves money, the result may be a cut to their budget.

"I'm particularly concerned about the interface between primary health care and hospital services. A lot of patients are being referred into hospital elective services that could be treated in primary care if we give GPs the diagnostic tools and access to advice that they need."

The Addressing Disincentives Working Party Report identifies 7 disincentives that are keeping district health boards from maximising elective service delivery:

- Efficiency gains are not rewarded at the point of delivery
- Perceived medico-legal risks discourage innovation
- Weaknesses in interface between primary and secondary care
- Poor access to diagnostic tools
- Negative consequences of using alternative providers
- Difficulties in assessing community need for elective surgery
- Striking the balance between acute and elective procedures

"I want the recommendations of this report work picked up by district health boards and implemented during the 2006/07 financial year. None of these issues alone will be a silver bullet solution, but addressing them together will lead to signficiant improvements in how we deliver elective surgery in New Zealand."

ENDS

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