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Funding boost for electives is a good start but more needed

Surgeons say funding boost for electives is a good start but doesn’t go far enough

Friday 27 May, 2016

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) welcomes the announcement of an additional $2.2 billion for Health over the next four years, but believes that an even greater investment is required to meet the needs of New Zealand’s growing and aging population.

Professor Randall Morton, Chair of the New Zealand National Board, said that while the additional funding for Health was welcome, it was uncertain whether the extra $96 million promised for elective surgeries would adequately address the growing issue of unmet surgical need in New Zealand.

“At present, unmet surgical need poses a considerable challenge for New Zealand’s public health system,” Professor Morton said.

“District Health Boards are already struggling to meet the demands placed on them, as New Zealand’s population has continued to grow in both size and age, while the Health funding provision has not kept up with increasing costs.”

While official figures do show that more elective surgeries are being completed every year, numbers alone do not provide a complete picture.

“Hospitals are constantly being asked to do more, and in a shorter time frame, in a very tight funding environment. This can only continue for so long before the quality and safety of services becomes threatened,” Prof Morton said.

“The current focus on the volume of elective surgeries does not effectively address the issues of unmet need of New Zealanders.

“We should be looking at the severity of the ailment, presence of patient comorbidity, the complexity of treatment, and the quality of outcome.

“It is therefore very important that we continue to pursue initiatives such as the National Patient Flow (NPF) project.

“Until now resources available for NPF have reportedly not been sufficient for the collection and reporting of outcomes data.”

“While an additional $96 million for elective surgeries will help, we will be very interested to see exactly where this extra funding is invested,” Prof Morton said.


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