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Big increase in elective surgery, reduction in waiting times

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health

16 August 2012

Big increase in elective surgery and reduction in waiting times

More patients are getting the operations they need and they’re getting them faster, according to the latest information from district health boards.

“An extra 7,500 patients received elective surgery in the last 12 months, meaning 153,000 people got the operations they needed. This is the fourth year of record increases under National,” said Health Minister Tony Ryall.

“Since the change of government in 2008, thirty per cent more patients are getting elective surgery.

Announcing the most recent improvements in elective surgery volumes today at Hutt Hospital’s new theatre complex, the Health Minister said district health boards were continuously focusing on improving frontline services.

“More patients are getting hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, and tonsillectomies sooner - more prompt treatment improves recovery and gets patients back to normal life sooner.

“We’ve also managed to greatly reduce the number of patients waiting for elective surgery or for a specialist assessment to see if they need surgery, with a particular focus on those waiting over six months.

“In the last year the number of patients across the country waiting longer than six months has been reduced by eighty-five per cent from 5,700 to 840.

“This includes 690 patients on Canterbury DHB’s list which has been exempted from the target this year. Not counting Canterbury, this means that now only 150 patients who are booked to see a specialist or for surgery are waiting more than six months across the country at any one time.

“The vast majority of DHBs have achieved the goal of no patients waiting longer than six months.

Mr Ryall said the results show a step change in waiting times for New Zealand patients after more than a decade of very long waits across the country.

“It is an outstanding achievement due to an exceptional and strong focus by DHB staff treating patients who had been waiting longer than six months.

“Because hospitals have done 8,000 more operations than last year, they’ve been able to target that service on those patients waiting over six months,” Mr Ryall said.

Today the Minister presented Hutt Valley DHB with a certificate recognising their outstanding achievement in reducing to zero the number of patients waiting over six months for surgery appointments.

“These improvements are not only very good for patients but they are a huge credit to our health professionals across the country.

“The challenge is now to lock in the goal of zero patients waiting over six months, and then bring the maximum waiting time down to five months by the end of June 2013,” Mr Ryall says.

The Ministry of Health advises that the complexity of operations performed remains the same.

ENDS

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