Revealed: Who misses out on surgery - regional figures released

The Ministry of Health has today released a further three months' data on referrals for specialist care. Photo / iStock
The Ministry of Health has today released a further three months' data on referrals for specialist care. Photo / iStock

Thousands of Kiwis are being declined specialist appointments each month - with patients in some regions including the Bay of Plenty more likely to miss out.

The Ministry of Health has today released a further three months' data on referrals for specialist care.

The "national patient flow" data shows that between October and December last year there were 161,881 referrals for first specialist assessment.

These usually come after a person has been to see their GP, who can then refer them on to see a specialist, such as an orthopaedic surgeon.

Before that happens, the patient is assessed by a prioritising clinician, who then makes a call on whether the patient gets a specialist assessment.

Of the 161,881 referrals that were assessed in this way, 87 per cent were accepted - with five per cent declined.

A further eight per cent were declined or held for other reasons, including insufficient information or so further investigation can be carried out.

Thresholds vary between DHBs, which take into account rankings on measures such as pain and mobility.

The Labour Party and surgeons have pointed to DHBs' lifting thresholds for access to elective surgery.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman says thresholds have always been adjusted from year to year, and were done so using tools to ensure fair and equitable access.

The newly released data shows the rate of referrals declined because they were judged below the threshold varies between region.

In December last year, these rates were:
• Northland - 0 per cent (84.7 per cent accepted)
• Auckland - 5.5 per cent (84.6 per cent accepted)
• Counties Manukau - 0.6 per cent (96.6 per cent accepted)
• Waitemata - 7.3 per cent (85 per cent accepted)
• Waikato - 2.6 per cent (84.3 per cent accepted)
• Bay of Plenty - 11.8 per cent (84.5 per cent accepted)
• Hawke's Bay - 3.2 per cent (82.5 per cent accepted)
• Taranaki - 10.8 per cent (78.1 per cent accepted)
• Hutt Valley - 10.7 per cent (76.3 per cent accepted)
• Canterbury - 0 per cent (96 per cent accepted)
• Southern - 9.9 per cent (87.4 per cent accepted)

The ministry has also released information by specialty type. Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the data release provided transparency.

"The data from national patient flow will help the sector better understand the outcomes of referrals to hospital specialists."

- NZ Herald

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