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22 new operating theatres for public hospitals

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

3 October 2006 Media Statement

22 new operating theatres for public hospitals

The Labour-led government's historic investment in public hospitals will see an extra 22 operating theatres open over the next four years, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

The construction of new theatres will coincide with a number of projects to upgrade existing theatres as part of the government's four-year $630 million capital investment in health.

The government announced yesterday that $200 million will be invested to provide 10,000 more New Zealanders with elective surgery every year. The number of people who get elective surgery is already 6,000 more than it was under the National-led government.

"The Labour-led government has built more public hospitals than any government in New Zealand history and has hired 5,000 extra doctors and nurses to work in them," Pete Hodgson said. "That investment has seen more people getting access to hospital treatment than ever before.

"It's also opened the door to new opportunities. As a result of having more staff and more hospital space we are now able to invest $200 million to provide elective surgery to an extra 10,000 New Zealanders a year.

"That's a significant expansion of services that's only possible because this government has invested heavily in health over the past seven years. We also have a significant programme of elective surgery policy reform to implement alongside our investment."

All 21 District Health Boards have confirmed they have surgical services that can provide more operations as a result of the latest government investment and capacity increases in recent years. The new operating theatres will be a further expansion of capacity above and beyond what will be required to increase elective surgery delivery.

"We need to keep giving our surgeons and theatre nurses the basic bricks and mortar resources they need to get the job done. We're now in a position to announce that the government's huge investment in public hospitals will allow us to open an extra 22 operating theatres in just four years – that's an extra theatre every nine weeks.

"In addition, we're working with the College of Surgeons, College of Anaesthetists and theatre nurses to find smarter ways to use the theatres we already have. Clinicians are telling us there are ways that we can make it easier for them to make better use of existing resources and we're keen to find solutions.

"Our health system is helping more New Zealanders than ever before and I'm pleased that elective surgery is the latest service we're able to invest heavily in. This is the sort of thing a government can do when it puts the health of families ahead of reckless, unaffordable tax cuts."

Attached: Table showing increases in the number of operating theatres

Contact: Jason Knauf, Press Secretary, (04) 471 9918 or (021) 719 881, email:,

Numbers of planned additional or newly opened operating theatres; 2006/07 to 2009/10
Auckland 2
Bay of Plenty 1
Canterbury 1
Capital & Coast 5
Counties Manukau 2
Lakes 1
Nelson Marlborough 1
Waikato 1
Waitemata 8
Whanganui, new theatres replacing old theatres 4
Canterbury, new theatres replacing old theatres 3

Numbers of Existing Operating theatres (excluding procedure rooms)
Auckland 31
Bay of Plenty 10
Canterbury 23*
Capital & Coast 13
Counties Manukau 21
Hawke’s Bay 6
Hutt 4
Lakes 5
MidCentral 7
Nelson Marlborough 8
Northland 7
Otago 12
South Canterbury 4
Southland 4
Tairawhiti 3
Taranaki 4
Waikato 20**
Wairarapa 3
Waitemata 11
West Coast 4
Whanganui 4

* Five of Canterbury DHB’s theatres have been added since April 2005.

** Waikato DHB’s figure includes relatively low used theatres at Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Taumarunui.


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