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Minister Announces Funding Of Mobile Surgery Bus

Health Minister Annette King has announced funding for a mobile surgery bus that will travel to rural hospitals to perform elective day surgery.

"The bus will place New Zealand at the forefront internationally in terms of such services. The value of the contract is expected to be about $25 million over the next five years, with another $750,000 in the first year to develop the service. It is a measure of this Government's commitment to the health of rural people."

The bus, to be provided by Mobile Medical Technology (MMT), will be staffed by local and travelling staff, and will use existing hospital facilities for recovery.

Mrs King said the bus, to start operating in about nine months, would be equipped to perform a range of day surgery, including vasectomies, breast biopsies, grommets, tooth extractions, cataracts, hernias and varicose veins operations.

"At the moment rural patients are often disadvantaged because they have to travel quite long distances, and often have to stay overnight or even two nights instead of being able to go home the same day. With this new service many patients will not have to travel as far, they won't have to take time off work, and they can be guaranteed a consistent service."

Mrs King said six South Island and seven North Island hospitals with secondary facilities will host the mobile surgery bus, and she understood more could be added in the future.

"The bus will visit one day every five weeks. The North Island centres are Dargaville, Kawakawa, Wairoa, Hawera, Taumarunui, Rawene and Te Puia, and in the South Island the bus will visit Balclutha, Buller, Clyde, Gore, Oamaru and Queenstown."

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NB More information can be viewed on MMT's website, www.mmt.co.nz
A number of health professionals are available to answer questions about the unit. They are Dr Stuart Gowland, chairman, MMT, Christchurch (025) 321 103, Dr Alistair Yule, surgeon, Dunedin (025) 385 388, Dr Pat Alley, surgeon, Auckland (025) 285 2990, Isabel Jamieson, nurse educator, Christchurch (025) 234 8315, Dr Pat Ngata, general practitioner, Te Puia Springs (06) 862 6650, and Dr Pat Farry, South Island Rural Health Director, Dunedin (025) 222 9816.

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