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The country's leading heart surgeons have formed the National Cardiac Clinical Network to lead much needed reform of New Zealand's cardiac surgical services.
Last week the Government pumped an extra $5 million into cardiac services in Auckland to reduce an unacceptable number of people on the waiting list.
"A major report on cardiac surgery last year revealed that New Zealand delivers between 25% and 45% fewer heart surgery services than other comparable countries. Worse, the number of operations in New Zealand decreased in recent years," said Health Minister Tony Ryall.
"The number of cardiac surgical discharges actually dropped from 2,539 in 2002/03 to 2,313 in 2007/08."
"We need better planning to improve the rate and availability of cardiac operations across the country and the best people to do that are the experts in this area - the heart surgeons themselves and their teams."
"Nelson cardiologist Dr Andrew Hamer has been appointed to head the National Cardiac Clinical Network which is made up of the clinical directors of cardiac surgery from the five DHBs that deliver cardiac surgery. (Auckland, Waikato, Capital and Coast, Canterbury and Otago DHBs). The Network will also involve nurses, anaesthetists and intensive care specialists."
Dr Hamer said New Zealand needed to improve cardiac surgery throughput, especially for the people with the greatest need. That was best done with a strong network made up of clinicians working in partnership with DHB CEOs.
"Effective clinical leadership is a fundamental driver of improved front line health care" said Mr Ryall. "Greater cooperation and coordination between our senior clinicians across the country will improve frontline surgical services for all New Zealanders".
"New Zealanders' access to the cardiac surgery they need is not good enough and we are pleased that our senior heart surgeons are so committed to leading the reform in cardiac surgery services" Mr Ryall said.
Link to Cardiac Surgery Services in New Zealand - Cardiac Surgery Service Development Working Group Report