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Reform of elective surgery policy continues

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

2 October 2006 Media Statement

Reform of elective surgery policy continues

A programme of significant policy reforms will be implemented alongside the Labour-led government’s investment of $200 million in elective surgery, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

The reforms include the setting of targets for increased delivery, addressing a number of disincentives that have prevented DHBs from improving performance, and securing improvements in theatre utilisation. All involve feedback and guidance from clinicians and DHB managers.

“The Labour-led government’s historic re-investment in health services has led to New Zealand’s biggest ever hospital building programme, the employment of 5,000 extra doctors and nurses and a 25 per cent increase in the number of New Zealanders able to get treatment in our public hospitals,” Pete Hodgson said.

“But we are by no means finished with our work. If anything, the significant progress we’ve made in improving secondary hospital services has opened the door to new opportunities.

“Already, six thousand more New Zealanders receive elective surgery every year than was the case under the National-led government, but we are now in a position to do better. The Cabinet has agreed this morning to increase the number of New Zealanders who get elective surgery by 10,000 per annum.

“We’re backing that move with more than just money. I announced in June that district health boards will work to remove a number of roadblocks that have made it difficult for managers and clinicians to improve access to elective services. This work will be undertaken alongside work that is already underway reviewing the use of operating theatres in partnership with the College of Surgeons, College of Anaesthetists, nurses and theatre managers.

“Today I’m announcing that our major new investment in elective surgery will be matched with transparent targets for increased delivery. DHBs will only be paid if they agree to set clear targets above agreed elective volumes in the surgical areas they plan to invest in. These targets will be developed with the involvement of clinicians, DHB managers and the Ministry of Health.

“All of this follows what has been a challenging year in finally implementing a fair and effective prioritisation system for the non-urgent work done in our public hospitals. A number of DHBs had over promised to their communities and unintentionally, but unfairly raised the expectations of their patients as a result.

“There was no way we could invest in a system that was clearly not meeting the ethical expectations set by the Medical Council and the Health and Disability Commissioner, let alone basic expectations of fairness.

“Today, the vast majority of our DHBs have fair and effective booking systems in place and the government can make a significant investment with the confidence we have a system that works.”

Pete Hodgson today released the report of the Protecting Electives Volume Working Party, which outlines the process for the setting of targets for increased delivery of elective surgery.

Targets will be set as DHBs submit proposals for use of the government’s new funding package. All DHBs have confirmed that they will be able to use new funding to increase delivery, although not all are expected to be able to do so immediately.


See... Protecting Elective Volumes Working Group Report (PDF)

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