Clinical urgency is determined using national scoring tools (www.health.govt.nz/nz-health-statistics/data-references/code-tables/national-booking-reporting-system-code-tables) and in general the higher the score, the greater the urgency for treatment. Very high scores are often associated with high risk of cancer, conditions that may rapidly deteriorate, or conditions posing a significant risk to the patient’s current health status.
Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs are prioritising Maori and Pacific in our surgical scheduling processes. The patients’ ethnicity is taken into account along with their level of clinical urgency and the number of days they have been on the waiting list within a given clinical priority band. The aim of this work is to improve access to health care for Maori and Pacific people. It is unlikely that any other patients will be significantly affected as a result of this work.
Maori and Pacific people waiting longer for treatments is not a surgical scheduling issue but, rather, is related to access to healthcare and delays that may occur across the healthcare pathway from primary to secondary care.
Our work to prioritise Maori and Pacific patients for planned surgery, within a given clinical priority band, aligns with the national direction towards improved equity in healthcare. We anticipate that our plans to increase planned surgery overall will offset our policy, meaning any impact on other patients would be minimal.