The growing pressures on public hospitals could be reduced by funding more elective surgery in private hospitals, argues the NZ Private Surgical Hospitals Association.

The association was responding to media reports that emergency departments had their busiest January ever – raising fears that public hospitals may not cope with the lethal strain of flu set to hit New Zealand this winter.  It also followed the three Auckland district health boards’ chief executive telling MPs last month that the region’s health services were stretched to the limit.

The NZ Private Surgical Hospitals Association (NZPSHA) has responded by putting out a statement saying it has spare capacity to take the load off struggling DHBs.

“The private sector is well placed to manage elective capacity challenges to help public sector hospitals manage increasing acute demand,” said Dr Lloyd McCann, the vice president of the Association.

In its briefing paper to the new Government the Association said in 2017 it did around 170,000 procedures of which 14,897 were under contract to DHBs.  Overall it said it was doing about 50 per cent of all elective surgery carried out in New Zealand.

“We’d like to work with the government and other stakeholders to ensure New Zealanders have access to the care they need, when they need it, said McCann.

He also argued that utilising the spare capacity in the private sector will not only help DHBs meet their targets and reduce financial pressures but would also mean “thousands and thousands of patients” would get  the treatment they need faster. “This improves their quality of life which has both financial and personal outcomes”.

“Private sector hospitals provide a cost-effective solution that can be quickly and efficiently mobilised to provide the support that both DHBs and patients need.

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