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National pledges more operations and shorter surgical wait

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party
Spokesman for Health

10 November 2011 Media Statement

National pledges more operations and shorter surgical wait times

A re-elected National Government will deliver even more operations, and shorten surgical waiting times to a maximum of four months over the next three years says National Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"Our plan means more patients will get elective surgery, faster.

"In our first term, we achieved unprecedented levels of elective surgical operations, increased staffing, and reduced waiting times. Elective surgery has increased by 22 per cent since National came to office; an extra 500 operations a week.

"Currently DHBs provide just over 90% of surgery within the long-standing goal of treatment within six months of a patient being booked onto a waiting list.

"Now we are in a position to build on these significant achievements with even faster access to elective surgery, cancer treatment, and important diagnostics tests."

Elective surgery

"National will work to further reduce waiting times for elective surgery like hip and knee replacements, cataracts, and tonsils and gall-bladder removal.

"National will ensure that all patients ready and booked for surgery will get their operations within:
• Six months by mid-2012
• Five months by mid-2013
• Four months by December 2014

"This target will be supported by additional volumes of at least 4000 operations a year plus surgical efficiencies. More patients will be seen each year, faster."

"An additional $12 million per annum from the annual budget increase for Health will be allocated for these extra operations. DHBs will also contribute through existing budgets and efficiencies.

"Under National, additional elective operations have rocketed to an extra 27,000 patients per year. Our DHB teams have done a magnificent job."

Cancer Treatment

"We have successfully implemented the world gold standard of four weeks waiting for radiation treatment here in New Zealand. No cancer radiation patients have been sent to Australia since late in 2008.

"If re-elected we will work with cancer specialists and networks to expand the four week target to include chemotherapy treatment. This can be achieved within existing DHB budgets.


"National will work with clinicians to further reduce waiting times for important diagnostic tests, such as CT scans, MRI scans, angiograms and colonoscopies.

"Under National, more District Health Boards are letting GPs refer their patients directly for diagnostic tests like MRIs and CT scans without the patient waiting to see a hospital specialist. Under National, more DHBs will let GPs do this, where clinically appropriate.

"National will provide up to $4 million to develop monitoring, reporting and efficiency programmes to support the new waiting times' goal."

Workforce policy

"Our workforce policy will also support these initiatives, and we are releasing that today as well,” says Mr Ryall.

Highlights from the workforce policy include:
• a national stroke network
• dedicated stroke units in every metropolitan and provincial hospital
• expanding the voluntary bonding scheme to include medical radiation therapists and medical physicists who deliver crucial cancer treatment
• providing another 80 medical training places, and
• expanding clinical networks to give doctors, nurses and other health professionals greater leadership roles.

Visit the Shorter Waiting Times policy at:

Visit the Health Workforce policy at:


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