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Budget could have done more to reduce surgical waiting lists

The government’s so-called Wellbeing Budget has done little for the wellbeing of the thousands of Kiwis waiting for elective surgery, says the president of the NZ Private Surgical Hospitals Association.

Richard Whitney says the government has missed a perfect opportunity to address the concerning waiting list situation by failing to have DHBs collaborate with private surgical hospitals around the country to provide much-needed surgical services.

Whitney says more than 350,000 New Zealanders 18 years and over have some form of elective surgery each year.

An additional 280,000 have been told they need some form of elective surgery but only 110,000 of those are on waiting lists.

More than half of the 280,000 who require elective surgery but haven’t had it say their quality of life is worse than it was five years ago. A quarter state their quality of life is a lot worse, driven by a lack of mobility and higher levels of pain.

Almost a third of those who require elective surgery have had to make significant lifestyle changes.

Overall waiting times for surgery have increased since 2013. Among those waiting for surgery, waiting times are up by 80 days to 304 days.

“The private hospitals sector has significant capacity, with experience and expertise, to address much of this demand,” Whitney said.

“Our member hospital facilities already provide more than 50 percent of all elective surgery performed in New Zealand. We can partner with government to provide a significant number of additional elective surgeries.”

“Outsourcing a portion of this surgical workload, as part of a collaborative and strategic relationship between public hospitals and private providers, would help to meet the large unmet demand and enhance patient outcomes, while relieving the load on DHBs, enhancing efficiencies and reducing government capital expenditure requirements.”

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