Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says latest data shows around 148,000 more Kiwis have received a First Specialist Assessment (FSA) since 2008.
“Increasing access to specialist care is a key priority. The answer to increased demand is to do more, whether it’s assessments or operations, and that’s what the Government is focused on delivering,” says Dr Coleman.
“The latest data shows 552,423 patients received a FSA in 2016, a rise of almost 10,000 on the previous year. That’s an increase of 147,912 patients since 2008 when 404,511 FSAs were carried out – an increase of 37 per cent.
“229,083 patients received a medical FSA last year compared to 160,937 in 2008, and 323,340 patients received a surgical FSA in 2016 compared to 243,574 in 2008.
“This uplift has been accompanied by a continuing increase in the number of people receiving elective surgery.
“This is being supported by the extra $568 million being invested into the health sector this year - the biggest single increase in seven years - taking the health budget to a record $16.1 billion in 2016/17.”
The Government launched the National Patient Flow project to measure the outcomes of GP referrals to hospitals specialists for the first time. The latest data shows that between April and June 2016, there were around 177,400 referrals for a FSA - 87 per cent of referrals were accepted.
First Specialist Assessments are defined into two categories:
- Surgical FSAs are for patients whose condition is managed by a surgeon, for example - orthopaedics, general surgery, ophthalmology.
- Medical FSAs are for patients whose condition is managed by a physician, for example - cardiology, respiratory, renal.