Right now over 174,000 Kiwis are on the waiting list for elective surgery in our public health system. It's a disturbingly large number that is expected to swell further as our population ages and grows. The average waitlist period is 177 days (from initial GP visit to surgery) and there's no doubt that those on the waitlist are suffering - recent research shows that over 40 per cent report significant or severe discomfort!
How elective surgery works in our public health system
There are various steps - or hoops - people need to pass through in order to get booked for elective surgery in the public system. At each stage, a number of people do not pass through. Each subset is a smaller group than the total number - those who have seen a GP and need elective surgery.
GP - even if a GP agrees that a patient may benefit from elective surgery, many do not get referred to a specialist because the GP knows from experience that they won't meet the threshold to get their operation. So only a percentage of these get to the next stage - referred by GP to specialist.
Specialist - Those referred for first specialist assessment may not be accepted. Some are returned back to the GP, or have their assessment delayed. Even where the Specialist recommends surgery, they know that the maximum wait time is four months. This means the waiting list at any time only has capacity for four months worth of patients (about a third of total annual elective volumes). The others are in limbo.
If you want to avoid the pain and suffering that goes with jumping through the hoops of the public health system, private health cover is a must! There are options available to suit everyone's age, stage and lifestyle - simply get in touch with your Prosper Adviser to explore the best option for your situation.