19 Dec 2023

Bid to reduce orthopaedic wait lists by offering physio instead

From Nine To Noon, 9:05 am on 19 December 2023
Employer having pain in back. He holding it by hand while sitting at table during job. Worker with bad state of health concept

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Te Whatu Ora is aiming to drastically reduce surgery waitlists for orthopaedic patients, by offering them physiotherapy instead. 

A trial across Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Waikato, Wellington and Northland has indicated surgery wait times can be reduced by 75 percent.

Te Whatu Ora says patients who are waiting for pre-surgery assessments for a range of conditions involving hips, knees and spines, are now being offered preliminary physio appointments in their communities.

In some cases, patients are being told physiotherapy is enough - and they're removed from the 'suitable for surgery' waiting list.

The programme has since been picked up in other regions and work is underway to roll it out nationwide later next year. Te Whatu Ora planned care taskforce chair Andrew Connolly speaks to Kathryn Ryan.