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National MP Michael Woodhouse says patients in the South are receiving their first surgical assessments faster compared to 10 years ago.

“Speeding up patients’ access to their first surgical assessments has been a priority for this National-led Government.

“Last year a record 22.944 Southern patients received their first surgical assessment, an increase of 6 per cent in six years.

“In 2005 there were 33,000 patients across New Zealand waiting over six months for a specialist assessment or surgery, now there are just 35 – this is a great result.

“This Government has set clear targets to reduce wait times and increase the number of first surgical assessments and these results show locals are benefiting.

“These results are a credit to Otago and Southland’s health professionals, and show health services continue to improve for New Zealand families as a result of National’s $460 million investment in new money into the health budget each year,” Mr Woodhouse said.

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