4 Aug 2011

DHBs attempt to stop surgery 'queue jumping'

7:35 am on 4 August 2011

A Christchurch orthopaedic surgeon says district health boards are using strategies such as stand-down periods for privately-diagnosed patients to help even out access to public surgery.

Dr Gary Hooper says there's a problem with people who want surgery on their knees or hips jumping up the waiting list by paying a private specialist for their diagnosis.

"You shouldn't really be able to jump the queue because you can afford to pay, because that disadvantages those patients who can't pay to see a private specialist."

"The whole idea is to make it equitable for the whole population."

The practice is legal, but Dr Hooper says district health boards are trying to ensure all patients have equal access to the health care they need.

However, Waikato GP Caitlin Gill says stand-down periods will lead to longer waiting times for all orthopaedics patients on the elective surgery list.

She says patients will choose to go through the public health system if they know getting a private diagnosis won't speed up their care.