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National to tackle hospital waiting lists

John Key MP
National Party Leader

10 October 2008

National to tackle hospital waiting lists

National's Leader John Key says his party will tackle the huge challenges our health system faces – growing hospital waiting lists, out-of-control bureaucracy, and a chronic shortage of doctors and nurses.

“With the large amounts of money that have been poured into the health system in recent years, New Zealanders are entitled to expect a much more significant improvement to health services than they have had to date. We believe we can achieve significant improvements in health service delivery while maintaining the same spending track that Labour is running."

National has released new policies today aimed at improving access to healthcare and hospitals.

These initiatives will be funded from within the indicative health operating allocations and forecast new capital allowances in the 2008 Pre-Election Fiscal Update, which National is committed to proceeding with.

Mr Key says National will have an unrelenting focus on improving productivity and getting better value out of the investment in health.

National will:

• Reduce bureaucracy in health and shift savings to frontline care.

• Ensure that doctors, nurses and other health professionals have more say in how health services are developed and improved. Require DHBs to involve health professionals in decision-making.

• Encourage clinical networks across regions to assist in the planning, delivery and establishment of care. These networks will involve clinicians, non-government organisations, GPs, and patients.

• Expect DHBs to adopt new and innovative ways to improve timeliness and care.

• Hold the chairs of DHBs accountable for improvements in productivity and quality within their organisations.

“Fewer operations are being performed per capita, and the average waiting time has increased from 55 days in 2002, to 75 days now. We need to boost the number of elective surgeries performed in public and private hospitals, expand the services that primary care delivers, and carefully invest in new elective capacity in the public health system.”

National will:

• Build 20 new dedicated elective surgery theatres with associated beds and facilities over the next five years. We estimate the total capital cost will be around $36 million a year over five years.

• Target investment where it will provide the greatest boost in elective surgery numbers.

• Train 800 extra medical professionals to help staff the new dedicated elective surgery theatres. We estimate this will cost around $20 million a year.

• Encourage the smarter use of private hospitals to support elective surgery in public hospitals and reduce waiting lists through longer-term arrangements.

• Encourage GPs with special skills to provide a wider range of minor surgery in their clinics and improve direct referral to some diagnostic tests.

• Provide $13 million a year in delegated funding to kick-start the devolution of services to primary care.

This is part of a practical and considered plan to improve the health and well being of Kiwis.

Mr Key says that after nine years of Labour’s health policies, patients have to be sicker to get surgery, they have to wait longer to see a specialist, emergency departments are gridlocked, and radiotherapy times are often excessive.

“National believes that a responsive health system in a small country like ours can lead the world in better, sooner, more convenient patient care. This policy will help achieve that goal.”


To view policy and background document visit:

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