Govt’s targeted approach delivers more healthcare for Kiwis


Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall says health data released today shows the Government’s targeted approach to waitlists is making a real difference to Kiwis getting the treatment they need.

“When I became Minister of Health, I was clear that reducing waitlist times had to be a number one priority,” Ayesha Verrall said. 

“Agencies are working hard, and now we’re beginning to see the results, particularly in orthopaedics with the total number of planned care treatments, including minor operations, increasing nationwide.

“Around New Zealand, more regions are on track to meet their targets, despite winter pressures. A good example of progress is in Te Tai Tokerau - Northland, where between August 2022 and July 2023 there’s been a 76 percent reduction in the number of people waiting more than a year for surgical treatment.

“Working through these waitlists with a concentrated focus is making a difference,” Ayesha Verrall said.

  • People who’ve been waiting longer than three years for treatment have now either been given a date and treatment plan or have received their treatment. The aim is to have patients waiting longer than two years treated or scheduled for treatment by the end of September.
  • The next step is all patients waiting longer than 365 days, except for orthopaedic patients, being treated by the end of this year.
  • Through work by Te Whatu Ora, in partnership with the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association and Physiotherapy New Zealand, anyone who has been waiting longer than 365 days for orthopaedic surgery will have been treated or be scheduled for treatment by 30 June 2024.

“There has been work underway to improve theatre utilisation across the country, and less deferral of planned care,” Ayesha Verrall said.

“One staffing improvement that’s making a real difference comes from the work of the Anaesthetic Technician Tactical group, which was set up to reduce theatre cancellations through workforce shortages. This group has led several initiatives to improve the recruitment and retention of anaesthetic technicians across the country and it’s great to see the collaborative approach here.

“This and other work underway to improve theatre utilisation across the country will help reduce the number of last-minute theatre cancellations and the impact that has on patients who have sometimes been waiting a long time for their treatment.”

“The health reforms are having an impact. We are increasing our support for frontline healthcare and reducing the duplication of former DHB backrooms. 

“Working as one health system also means patients can move more easily to other areas of the country for planned care treatment. A good example of this is in South Canterbury where 302 patients from Canterbury and Southland have received treatment in Timaru Hospital over the last year.

“These initiatives wouldn’t possible without the commitment of the amazing people working on them.

“I want to acknowledge and thank the healthcare teams supporting New Zealanders and delivering exceptional care,” Ayesha Verrall said.