Shorter waiting times and more medical professionals for New Zealanders – National

National will keep increasing the number of elective operations, reduce waiting times and deliver faster, more convenient healthcare for all New Zealanders, Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key announced today.

“National has increased our investment in the public health service by $1.5 billion over the past three years, despite the country facing some of the toughest financial times ever,” says Mr Key.

“Our careful economic management of valuable health dollars means New Zealanders are getting better care, sooner. Each week, 500 more patients are receiving elective surgery – a 22 per cent increase since 2008.

“In our emergency departments, a record 92 per cent of people are being treated, admitted or discharged within six hours, which means faster care for patients who require urgent attention,” says Mr Key.

“National’s relentless focus on building better public services is delivering a world-class health system for New Zealanders, and we will continue to build on that success.

“We’re committed to cutting the waiting time for elective surgery from six to four months by the end of 2014, while at the same time making sure an extra 4000 people a year get the elective surgery they need.

“We will also make sure emergency patients, patients waiting for important tests and cancer patients face much shorter waiting times. All cancer patients ready for radiation treatment are receiving it within the world gold standard time of four weeks, and we will expand that to include chemotherapy patients.

Mr Key says National’s commitment to more efficient healthcare for New Zealanders will be backed up with more frontline staff in the country’s healthcare facilities.

“In the past three years, New Zealanders have seen their public health service staffed with 800 more doctors and 2000 more nurses. We’ve begun to stem the tide of health professionals going overseas, and we’re now seeing the lowest vacancy and turnover rates in years.

“National will further strengthen our health workforce to deliver New Zealand the responsive and robust service they deserve, by moving resources to the frontline, where they’re needed most.

“We will expand our successful Voluntary Bonding Scheme for health graduates to include medical radiation therapists, so more young health professionals will stay in New Zealand.

“Off the back of this, we’ll be expanding rural training initiatives, like the Rural Immersion Scheme, to better support rural GPs and the rural health workforce.

Mr Key says the number of New Zealand-trained doctors will expand under National.

“By 2013, a National-led Government will also have introduced a further 200 places for medical school students, so our health system can keep pace with the needs of our growing and changing population.

“Ultimately, National will continue to be smart with our healthcare dollars to provide more operations, faster treatment and a better chance of a healthier life for all New Zealanders.”