Extra $10m for elective surgery 'evidence'

Annette King
Annette King
A cash top-up for elective surgery for the rest of the financial year is evidence the Government has been embarrassed by the issue, Labour health spokeswoman Annette King says.

Health Minister Tony Ryall yesterday announced an extra $10 million for elective surgery for the next five months.

''The Government has been embarrassed into injecting more cash into elective surgery following criticism from doctors and clinicians about increasing unmet need in the health sector,'' Mrs King said in a press release.

The money would fund more than 1800 extra operations, Mr Ryall said in a statement.

''A third of the operations will be orthopaedic surgery, including knee and hip joint replacements. The rest will be a mix of general surgery, ophthalmology operations, including cataracts, and ear, nose and throat operations.

''This increased funding will build on the record numbers of elective operations achieved by the National-led Government,'' Mr Ryall said.

The extra money would be shared by the country's 20 health boards. Dunedin orthopaedic surgeon Associate Prof David Gwynne-Jones recently spoke out in the Otago Daily Times about the Otago situation, saying underprovision of hip and knee operations meant some patients had to be told they might never qualify for surgery.

''There's a backlog of cases that need to be done in order to get to a level where we can offer patients treatment when they're at an acceptable level of disability, as opposed to an unacceptable level,'' Prof Gwynne-Jones said at the time.

His concerns were dismissed by Mr Ryall when the ODT approached the minister for comment.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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