Wednesday, June 19, 2024

$30m investment targets radiology services access

New Zealanders are set to benefit from free access to radiology services referred directly by their general practitioner, resulting in faster diagnosis and improved health outcomes, Health Minister, Shane Reti said today.

A Budget investment of $30 million through Health New Zealand baseline funding will enable faster access to radiology services for patients.

“Our Budget last Thursday delivered the foundations for a thriving New Zealand economy, but also for better public services that Kiwis deserve. Part of that is ensuring New Zealanders have timely access to healthcare when they need it,” says Dr Reti.

“This investment will remove co-payments on X-ray, CT scans and diagnostic ultrasound, whilst also enabling primary health providers to refer patients directly where clinically appropriate. Having consistent access to radiology services is critical for timely diagnosis, high-quality care and improved health outcomes.”

Currently, access to radiology for GPs varies according to previous district health board rules.

“At the moment, some New Zealanders are having to wait weeks or months to see a hospital specialist who then refer them to radiology services, where they may wait even longer,” said the Minister.

“Enabling primary health providers to refer patients directly, without waiting for a specialist, will help New Zealanders get an earlier diagnosis and enable specialists to determine the right treatment, sooner.”

Services will be delivered across both public hospitals, where available, and private radiology providers.

“The first investment will be in Wellington and the Hutt Valley, where we are equalising access to radiology by investing $2.6 million annually to reduce co-payments and recognise increases in imaging numbers as the population becomes older and more complex.”

This will then be followed by other districts with poor access to radiology services.

“These investments are part of a wider programme of delivering better public services and improved health outcomes for all New Zealanders,” says Dr Reti.

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