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Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman

Minister of Health

26 May 2016

$96m to further increase elective surgery rates

An extra $96 million over four years will ensure more New Zealanders get the surgery they need, Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman says.

“Access to elective surgery is a priority for this Government. It makes a real difference to patients and their families.

“As New Zealanders live longer, access to elective surgery is becoming more important than ever. Doing more elective surgery each year is crucial.

“This funding boost is part of the continued effort to increase elective surgeries by an average of 4,000 a year,” Dr Coleman says.

The number of First Specialist Assessments increased from around 432,000 in 2008/09 to over 542,000 in 2014/15. As a result, the number of patients receiving elective surgery increased from around 118,000 in 2007/08 to 167,000 in 2014/15. That's around 50,000 more surgeries over the last seven years.

“While there will always be more to do - the answer to increased demand is to do more. These year-on-year increases are a credit to our health workforce.

“The National Patient Flow project is starting to measure the outcomes of GP referrals to hospital specialists. New Zealand is one of just a few countries collecting information of this kind at a national level,” Dr Coleman says.

Between 1 July and 30 September 2015 there were around 158,000 referrals for a First Specialist Assessment - 87 per cent of these were accepted, and 5 per cent were declined because they did not meet the threshold.

The remaining 8 per cent either had their requests declined due to insufficient information, were not eligible for treatment, or were transferred to another DHB or another speciality.

As the data builds, the proportion of patients sent back to their GP for care as they did not meet the threshold is expected to rise to around 10 to 15 per cent.

Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372

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