National is promising a reduction in waiting times for elective surgery patients if it wins a second term in government.
Prime Minister John Key yesterday promised to reduce over three years the maximum waiting times to four months for a first public hospital specialist assessment for elective services, and the same again for treatment once a patient is booked.
The long-standing policy under National and Labour administrations has been six months. However a government audit report leaked to the Herald in February said that typically at least 11 per cent of patients treated in the first half of last year had been waiting for more than six months.
"We're committed to cutting the waiting time for elective surgery from six to four months by the end of 2014," Mr Key said yesterday, "while at the same time making sure an extra 4000 people a year get the elective surgery they need."
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National says it has increased the annual number of elective operations to more than 140,000, from fewer than 120,000 before it took office in 2008.
The party yesterday pledged $12 million a year to boost elective surgery. He also committed National to the continuation of its 2008 policy, already partly fulfilled, to boost medical school places by 200 over five years.
Greens health spokesman Kevin Hague said that while increasing the volume of elective surgery had been good for patients who needed surgery, National had done it at the expense of preventive health care.
* Reduce waiting times to four months for a first public hospital specialist assessment for elective services and same again for treatment once a patient is booked
* They have pledged $12 million a year to boost elective surgery
* Patients will wait no more than four weeks for cancer chemotherapy, following referral
* Extension of the voluntary bonding scheme to include medical radiation technologists
* Expansion of a rural health-worker training scheme.