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36% increase in Waikato patients receiving First Specialist Assessments

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman – Minister of Health

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says latest data shows around 13,000 more Waikato DHB patients have received a First Specialist Assessment (FSA) since 2008.

“Increasing access to specialist care is a key priority. The answer to increased demand is to do more, whether it’s assessments or operations, and that’s what the Government is focused on delivering,” says Dr Coleman.

“In Waikato DHB 49,846 patients received a FSA last year, compared to 36,550 patients in 2008 – an increase of 36 per cent.

“Across the country 552,423 patients received a FSA in 2016, a rise of almost 10,000 on the previous year. That’s an increase of 147,912 patients since 2008 when 404,511 FSAs were carried out – a rise of 37 per cent.

“This uplift has been accompanied by a continuing increase in the number of people receiving elective surgery.

“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.

“Overall an extra $568 million is being invested into the health sector this year – the biggest single increase in seven years – taking the health budget to a record $16.1 billion in 2016/17.”

The Government launched the National Patient Flow project to measure the outcomes of GP referrals to hospital specialists for the first time.

The latest data shows that between April and June 2016, there were around 177,400 referrals across the country for a FSA – 87 per cent of referrals were accepted.

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.
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