Impressive Progress Made In Booking System

  • Bill English

Health Minister Bill English said today the first quarterly report on the elective surgery booking system showed impressive progress in the implementation of the system since the first benchmark report in July.

"Hospitals have made impressive progress over the last few months on the booking system, particularly in the ground work required to get the system up and running.

Twenty-two of 29 hospitals now have surgical referral guidelines in place and hospital information systems are now much more sophisticated and better able to meet the needs of the booking system.

"There is still some way to go before the booking system is fully implemented, but I am pleased with the progress made. Doctors, nurses and administrators have put in a huge effort to get the momentum going because they can see longer term benefits for patients.

"The booking system is about giving certainty to people waiting for elective surgery, and about treating people fairly by ensuring that those people with the greatest need for surgery get treated first. All hospitals are now well advanced with the development and use of the clinical assessment criteria used for assessing patients' needs.

"As expected, we are now getting much more accurate information about just how much work is being done through our hospitals as better information starts coming through about elective surgery.

"For instance, this report shows that in just three months more than 311,000 outpatients have been seen by our specialists. This compares with a total of 191,000 reported seen during the previous three months, but the increase is likely to reflect improved data collection. Similarly, an apparent increase in the number of new referrals waiting to be seen, which now total 107,000, reflects more accurate data collection rather than an increase in cases.

"Progress made on the booking system includes:

- more than 311,000 outpatients seen between 1 July and 30 September 1998
- 7,737 patients booked for surgery
- a further 10,043 patients given certainty of treatment within six months
- 65,801 patients on residual waiting list, down from 84,997 at 30 June
- 75 percent of patients scored using Clinical Priority Assessment Criteria (CPAC)
- 22 of 29 hospitals now have surgical referral guidelines
- 90 percent of both medical and surgical services have, or are developing, referral guidelines.

"I look forward to further significant steps forward next year, in particular growing co-operation between GPs and hospitals," said Mr English.