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Government to fund 10,000 extra elective procedure

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

2 October 2006 Media Statement

Government to fund 10,000 extra elective procedures

The Labour-led government will invest $200 million to provide elective surgery to an additional 10,000 New Zealanders a year, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

The new four-year funding package was approved by Cabinet this morning. It will be available for all District Health Boards who consistently meet the requirements of the government's booking system policy. The funding will be available from 1 November, although it is anticipated that not all DHBs will be able to use all of it immediately.

DHBs will be able to contract with their neighbours to do surgery, minor surgery can be contracted to General Practitioners with a particular interest in a surgical area and DHBs can also contract with the private hospital sector if spare capacity exists.

Pete Hodgson said this significant investment was only possible now that DHBs had effective booking systems in place that deliver fair prioritisation for patients.

"We now have one of the fairest and most transparent elective surgical systems in the world, where people who need treatment the most will get it first and where someone who is promised treatment will receive it within six months," Pete Hodgson said.

"It is not acceptable for people to wait for long periods without being seen and it is not acceptable for people to be returned to their GPs without being seen. I regret that over the years New Zealanders have had exactly that experience. My hope is that that era is now drawing to a close.

"I'm confident that as of 30 September the majority of DHBs have processes in place to manage their systems honestly and treat their patients fairly and that will meet their ethical obligations.

"I'm also confident that those few DHBs that don't yet have these systems in place soon will. Both government policy and ethical considerations are driving this. Both the Medical Council and the Health and Disability Commissioner have recently reminded us all that we have an ethical obligation to prioritise patients.

"I'm delighted that the booking system, introduced by the National Party, is now almost completely implemented and that there is growing understanding of why it's been so important to get this policy working. A lot of work has been needed over recent years to develop systems and to build capacity.

"Thanks to the ongoing work of many clinicians the main prioritisation tools have now been developed. There are 1,000 more doctors in our public hospitals than there were when Labour came to power and my predecessor Annette King undertook the largest hospital building programme in New Zealand's history.

"All the while, our hospitals have been treating more and more people every year. 6,000 more people received elective surgery last year than in 1999, but with a fair and effective system in place we are now in a position to do even better.

"The government has already announced large increases where elective surgical service need was greatest – major joint surgery and cataracts – and both these programmes are running slightly ahead of schedule. We are now on track to have the world's second-highest intervention rate for hip and knee surgery.

"We now have the capacity to lift all other surgical interventions, depending on the different needs of people in different communities. As with major joints and cataracts funding will be available only for surgery additional to agreed volumes and payment will be on delivery."

In the course of planning for the new electives initiative, the Ministry of Health discussed with DHBs their ability to use the funding to boost surgery numbers. All DHBs have confirmed that they have surgical disciplines that can expand services if they receive funding increases.

Attached: Cabinet paper on the $200 million elective services initiative and figures on elective surgery discharges.



Number of elective surgical discharges
1999/2000 2005/2006
99,256 105,437

Case-weighted discharges
1999/2000 2005/2006
109,414 132,693


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