Better, faster access to health services in the Bay

Column Articles
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ensuring New Zealanders can access better health services faster has been a priority for this Government, and the latest quarterly data shows we’re making strong progress.

District health boards (DHBs) are performing more elective surgeries, people are spending less time waiting in emergency departments, and they’re getting their cancer treatment faster than ever before. More of our children are being immunised, and more people are being supported to make healthy changes to their lifestyles by quitting smoking or having their risk of cardiovascular disease assessed. 

In the Bay our DHB has been working hard to ensure that there is improved access to elective surgery and have increased their volumes of elective surgery to 107%. Our DHB is beginning cancer patient’s treatment faster with an increase from last quarter. More smokers are being helped by our DHB to quit with an increase in the number of people offered support by their healthcare practitioner. These are just a few examples of the great work that has been done through our DHB and are a credit to the work being done by our health workforce.

Nationally, progress towards the new faster cancer treatment target improved six per cent, up to 75 per cent – the biggest quarterly increase to date. We introduced this more ambitious target to speed up cancer treatment even further. Currently, all patients who are ready for treatment wait no more than four weeks for radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Under Labour, people were going to Australia to get their cancer treatment. Those days are over and this Government continues to make delivering better cancer services a priority.

DHBs are working hard to continue to improve the services they deliver. The target for more heart and diabetes checks was met for the second consecutive quarter – with around 1.2 million people having had their cardiovascular disease risk assessed in the past five years.

We also saw 98,870 elective surgeries performed to date in the past year – 4,800 more than planned. Elective surgery makes a real difference to patients and their families – it reduces pain, increases independence, and improves quality of life. We have now delivered around 50,000 more surgeries over the past seven years – a 42 per cent increase.

From 1 July, we will introduce the new childhood obesity health target. It replaces more heart and diabetes checks, which will still be monitored by DHBs, as one of the official targets.

The Government’s focus on delivering better health services to people who need them, supported by a record $15.9 billion health budget, is making a real difference to New Zealanders.