The Health Select Committee, of which I am a member, had a very interesting meeting last week.  The Private Surgical Hospitals Association told the committee there is spare capacity in their hospitals, and that the public sector could hire them when they are not being used.

This would, according to the Association, remove the need for massive investment in new public operating theatres and allow a greater number of surgeries to take place and thus cut waiting lists.

A side benefit is that there would be more work for surgeons which could be an incentive for them to stay in New Zealand.

National has already begun to encourage relationships between DHBs and private hospitals, and we are expecting the Ministry of Health to develop a working relationship with the private sector – but not at the expense of our public hospitals.

It will be interesting to see how this works.