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More than 7000 miss out on surgeries

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/04/2016

More than 7000 people missed out on elective surgeries over a three-month period last year - thousands more than initially thought.

New data released by the government shows 7229 patients referred to hospital specialists by GPs between July 1 and September 30 did not meet the "threshold" for publicly-funded elective surgery.

Provisional figures released in March showed 5335 patients had missed out.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said all up, 158,214 patients had been referred for a first assessment by a specialist, and 87 per cent of referrals were accepted, while five per cent were declined.

"As the data builds we expect 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," he said.

Health Funds Association, the industry body representing health insurers, says it confirms what they already know - more and more people are waiting for elective surgery.

Chief executive Roger Styles said the association's own figures showed up to 280,000 people were waiting.

"More and more people need surgery, but our public system is stretching just to keep pace with growing demand, while less urgent cases have to wait longer and longer," he said,

Thresholds are set by individual District Health Boards to prioritise access to elective surgeries.

The government started collecting referral data in July 2014.

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