Health targets: Improved access to elective surgery

The Government has directed the Ministry of Health to develop a new set of performance measures to improve health outcomes for New Zealanders.

While work is underway to develop these new measures DHBs will continue to report to the Ministry against the current set of health targets, as well as against a previously established suite of wider measures.

See the Health targets page for more information on the development of new measures.

What is the target?

The volume of elective surgery will be increased by an average of 4000 discharges per year.

DHBs have negotiated local targets taking into consideration the health needs of their communities. Collectively these targets contribute to a national increase in elective surgery discharges.

Since 2015/16 the target has included elective and arranged in-patient surgical discharges, regardless of whether they are discharged from a surgical or non-surgical specialty (excluding maternity).

Why is this target area important?

The government wants the public health system to deliver better, sooner, more convenient health care for all New Zealanders.

Elective surgery operations improve quality of life for patients suffering from significant medical conditions but that can be delayed because surgery is not required immediately. For example, a hip replacement can reduce pain and increase function, allowing a person to get back to participating in physical work or other important activities. A cataract operation may ensure someone is able to see well enough to read or to drive their car, while a grommet operation might restore proper hearing to a young person with ‘glue ear’.

In the past, the growth in elective surgical discharges did not keep up with population growth. The rate of growth of elective surgery needs to increase, which in turn, will increase patients’ access to this important service, and should achieve genuine reductions in waiting times for patients.

Who is the target champion?

Jess SmalingJess Smaling
Manager, Electives & National Services

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