Rotorua and Taupo hospitals will soon be carrying out surgery for those in neighbouring districts.
From April people in South Waikato and North Ruapehu districts will have the opportunity to access elective surgery at Rotorua or Taupo, as well as Waikato Hospital.
Waikato and Lakes district health boards have looked closely in recent months at ways patients from the two districts, which include the towns of Tokoroa and Taumarunui, could access their elective operations sooner.
In particular, it was patients requiring elective operations in orthopaedics, gynaecology, ear, nose and throat and ophthalmology. Some Waikato patients received major joint operations at Rotorua Hospital late last year and talks since then have looked at expanding the number of patients and the range of procedures.
Waikato District Health Board chief operating officer Jan Adams told her board on Wednesday it would give patients faster access to elective services. "We will offer the patients in north Ruapehu and South Waikato the option of going to Rotorua or Taupo hospitals for outpatient assessments or for major surgery at Rotorua," she said.
The change will help provide greater certainty for GPs and patients and assist the Waikato board meet the government's shortened waiting times for elective services.
Briefings will take place with GPs in north Ruapehu and South Waikato on the process and the GPs will have information for those patients offered services at Taupo and Rotorua hospitals.
"Lakes District Health Board has spare theatre and outpatient capacity and already meets the [new] five-month requirement," Mrs Adams said.
Lakes chief executive Ron Dunham said his board had traditionally been well ahead of its elective surgery targets.
"That means we can look after our Waikato neighbours as Lakes has the staff and facilities to care for them in addition to our own patients," Mr Dunham said.
"This is good news for our neighbours as they will receive the operations and care that they require. The initiative is in line with the ongoing commitment both the Government and Midland district health boards have towards providing timely operations and care to their communities."