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1000s more patients to receive elective services

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

18 May 2008 Media Statement

Budget 2008: Thousands more patients to receive elective services

An extra $160 million in health funding will see thousands more patients receive elective services over the next four years.

New annual funding of $35 million will see an estimated 5000 more people receive life-improving elective services treatment each year. This money will also fund a new initiative, giving approximately 12,000 extra patients in primary care greater access to specialist assistance, including assessments, diagnostic testing and outpatient and community based procedures.

A further one-off spend of $20 million over two years will be targeted at DHBs that have both a high level of specific need in their community and the capacity to deliver extra services (such as cardiac or spinal surgery).

Minister of Health David Cunliffe said this funding would support DHBs to bring even more services to the people who needed them most.

“Access to elective services is improving. In 2006, this government invested an extra annual $60 million into elective services. By the end of that financial year, patients had received 112,507 elective procedures—an increase of nearly 7000 over the previous year. By the end of the 2007/08 financial year, DHBs are aiming to deliver services to 10,000 more people.

“The new primary care electives initiative funding will allow DHBs and primary care to work together to give an estimated 12,000 more patients increased access to diagnostics, specialist assessments and outpatient procedures. This will reduce waiting times even further, free up services and allow hospitals to see and treat even more patients.

“Thousands more people every year are getting treatments that improve their lives immeasurably. This is an outstanding achievement and a clear illustration of the health sector’s commitment to improving services across the board.

This new investment will reduce patient waiting times even further, free up services, and allow hospitals to see and treat even more patients.”

Minister Cunliffe said that while there is always room for improvement, this funding is proof that the electives system is well worth investing in.

“New Zealand’s elective surgical system is one of the fairest and most transparent in the world. DHBs are managing waiting lists more efficiently. More people are being seen and waiting times are improving. People who need treatment the most get it first, and 92 per cent of patients who are promised treatment receive it within the required six months.

“This investment will allow even more people to access the system over the coming years.”

Background information: New funding for elective services

Is this funding sustainable?

Budget 2008 allocates $160 million extra for elective services 2008 – 2012 ($35 million annually). The $20 million allocated for areas of specific need is a one-off payment for FY 2008/09 and 2009/10 only.

What is the Ambulatory Electives Initiative?

The Ambulatory Electives Initiative (AEI) will improve access to specialist assistance for electives patients, including diagnostic testing, specialist assessment and outpatient treatments.

AEI will also focus on changing the way services are delivered, providing patients with access to specialist assistance in non-hospital settings, or by non-medical specialist providers. Recognising that not all elective patients need surgery to treat their condition, AEI will fund specialist assessments not associated with inpatient surgical procedures. These are not funded under the current Electives Initiative.

How will the funding be allocated to DHBs?

Funding will be allocated by the Ministry of Health’s Population Based Funding Formula (PBFF) and targeted towards areas of high need. Total electives funding is aimed at achieving an increase in 2008/09 of at least 15 percent more elective services in total (5 percent from the new funding and 10 percent from the existing electives budget). This would equate to approximately 15,000 extra patients receiving elective services across New Zealand.

Do DHBs have the capacity to deliver more elective services?

Although constraints have been identified as a concern in some DHBs, elective services delivery increased by 7 percent in 2006/07. Delivery in 2007/08 is progressing well towards the targeted increase of 10 percent. Five DHBs have requested and been allocated additional funding to deliver elective services on top of those planned at the beginning of the year.

What are elective services?

Elective services are hospital services for patients who do not need immediate hospital treatment, but who have an illness or disability that is life threatening and/or causing considerable pain and distress. They account for approximately one-fifth of total hospital discharges.


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