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Reducing pain, increasing prevention

Hon Tony Ryall

National Party
Health Spokesman

28 August 2014 Media Statement

Reducing pain, increasing prevention

A re-elected National government will invest $50 million extra of new money over the next three years in a plan to help New Zealanders live free from bone, muscle and joint pain and provide thousands more people with elective surgery.

“It is estimated up to a quarter of GP consultations are related to arthritis, lower back pain, orthopaedic or other bone, muscle and joint conditions,” says Mr Ryall.

“Experts tell me with earlier intervention we could improve the quality of life for many people suffering from what’s termed musculoskeletal pain, such as osteoarthritis.

“We will invest $6 million to create primary care based early intervention teams that will identify patients who are likely to suffer from bone, muscle & joint conditions in the future and support them to make changes to help prevent patients heading down the path towards surgery.

“The teams will work with a range of community health services such as GPs, dieticians and physiotherapists and will be coordinated through general practice. There will also be close links with hospital services such as rheumatology, orthopaedic and pain services.

“They will provide nutrition and lifestyle advice, assist with pain management and provide education so patients can better manage their condition themselves.

“This approach will enable some patients to be treated early enough to maintain independence. Others however will require surgery.

“To ensure the people requiring surgery receive it faster, we will invest $30 million of the new money to further lift our record numbers of orthopaedic operations – delivering an extra 2250 hip, knee and other orthopaedic operations over the next term in addition to the usual increases.

“The remaining $14 million will deliver more than 1500 extra general surgeries, such as hernia, gallstone and vein conditions.

“As a result of this initiative, plus our normal annual elective surgery increases, we will be providing an extra 14,500 elective operations a year by 2016/17.

“Reducing pain, increasing patient mobility and independence, and increasing elective surgery is a priority for this National-led Government,” says Mr Ryall.

“Thanks to our strong economic management, we have been able to increase our investment in health by an average of $500 million every year we have been in government, and this year the health budget will be a record $15.6 billion.”

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