King: Hips and knees slowing

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 24/03/2014

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The number of people getting elective surgery on hips and knees in Taranaki has dropped, according to Labour MP Annette King.

Mrs King said she had put in official information requests to all district health boards for the numbers of orthopaedic elective surgeries completed.

The last year Labour was in government was 2008 and the number of orthopaedic elective surgeries done in Taranaki during the 2008-09 year was 569. From 2009-10 to 2012-13 the numbers average out to 547 a year.

For the first seven months of 2013-14, 257 surgeries were carried out.

"This shows the real picture of people not getting the level of orthopaedic surgery they needed," Mrs King said.

The areas where there was the greatest disability and pain were the hips and knees, but though the number of operations had not gone up, the aging population had increased.

"Overall in New Zealand those (aged) over 65 have increased by 12 per cent and those over 80 have increased by 29 per cent. The greater need for orthopaedics is when you get older."

Mrs King said she wasn't blaming the DHB, which could only do what it could with the funding it had, she said.

"But because they must do an increasing number of electives, it's easier not to do the hard ones. Orthopaedics are the more complex operations."

She was hearing "many, many more" stories of people who were told they didn't get a first specialist assessment, Mrs King said.

"And then when you are assessed you're told you don't meet the threshold."

Taranaki DHB clinical services manager Lee McManus said the figure quoted for 2013-14 - 257 operations - was from July to January data and when extrapolated out to the end of June would be consistent with previous years.

"In some earlier years there was a nationwide drive and additional funding to provide more joint replacements which account for slightly higher procedure volumes. More recently our efforts to ensure we met the five month wait times resulted in similar number surgeries being performed across the years."

Health minister Tony Ryall said Mrs King's figures were "dodgy".

In January the Government had given the Taranaki DHB $300,000 to do 55 more elective surgeries, he said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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