Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says latest figures show a record number of Waikato DHB patients received a medical or surgical First Specialist Assessment (FSA) last year.
“Increasing access to specialist care has been a priority for this Government. New data shows more people in Waikato than ever before are receiving FSAs,” says Dr Coleman.
“49,267 Waikato patients received a medical or surgical FSA in 2015 compared to 38,970 in 2009 – that’s a 26 per cent increase.”
18,282 Waikato patients received a medical FSA last year, compared to 13,968 in 2009 – a 31 per cent increase. 30,985 patients received a surgical FSA last year, compared to 25,002 in 2009 – an increase of 24 per cent.
FSAs cover over 10 specific surgical services, including ophthalmology, ear nose and throat, and general surgery. In Waikato the number of orthopaedic assessments increased by 43 per cent – from 2,675 in 2009 to 3,835 in 2015
“While there’s still more to be done, we are heading in the right direction. The answer to increased demand is to do more – whether it’s assessments or operations,” says Dr Coleman.
“These improvements are a credit to our dedicated health workforce, and are supported by the $400 million extra invested into health in Budget 2015.”
This is supported by the $257 million funding increase Waikato DHB has received over the last seven years. This includes $44 million in new money for this year, taking the DHB’s total funding to $1.1 billion for 2015/2016.
FSAs are carried out by hospital based specialists after referral by a GP.
They are defined into two categories:
- Surgical FSAs are for patients whose condition is managed by a surgeon, for example – orthopaedics, general surgery, ophthalmology.
- Medical FSAs are for patients whose condition is managed by a physician, for example – cardiology, respiratory, diabetes. They do not involve surgery.