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34% increase in Waikato patients receiving specialist assessments

Media state Dr Jonathan Coleman, Ministry of Health

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says latest figures show a record number of Waikato DHB patients received a First Specialist Assessment (FSA) in 2015/16.

“Increasing access to specialist care has been a priority for this Government and the latest data shows more people than ever before in Waikato are receiving FSAs,” says Dr Coleman.

“50,276 Waikato DHB patients received a medical or surgical FSA in 2015/16 compared to 37,462 in 2008/09 – that’s a 34 per cent increase.”

18,547 Waikato DHB patients received a medical FSA in 2015/16 compared to 13,543 in 2008/09 – a 37 per cent increase. 31,729 patients received a surgical FSA in 2015/16 compared to 23,919 in 2008/09 – a 33 per cent increase.

“This uplift has been accompanied by a continuing increase in the number of people receiving elective surgery,” says Dr Coleman.

“The number of patients in Waikato receiving elective surgery increased from 10,116 in 2007/08 to 16,756 in 2015/16. That’s over 6,600 more surgeries over the last eight years – a 66 per cent increase.

“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.”

These results are supported by the $351 million funding increase Waikato DHB has received over the last eight years. Waikato DHB will receive an extra $55 million in new money this year, taking the DHB’s total funding to $1.18 billion for 2016/17.

Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372

Notes to editors

First Specialist Assessments 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, renal.

The National Patient Flow latest data shows that between October and December 2015, there were 161,881 referrals for a FSA. 87 per cent of those referrals were accepted. The number of patients sent back to their GP for care as they did not meet the threshold may rise to around 10 to 15 per cent.

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