Arthritis New Zealand says the increase in elective surgery announced by the Prime Minister today needs to be matched with early intervention and treatment to reduce the pain and suffering of people living with arthritis.

Arthritis New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Sandra Kirby, welcomed the announcement to increase elective surgeries by an average of 5,500 a year but said the greatest need is for prevention and early intervention.

“The Government will get better long term gains by investing in programmes such as Mobility Action Programmes. Our concern is these fledgling programmes have great potential but limited reach and funding,” Ms Kirby said.

Ms Kirby said the number of people with osteoarthritis is likely to increase, due to sports injuries, ageing, and rising rates of obesity. This will put even greater pressure on the health system.

“To avoid the need for even more joint replacements, programmes like Mobility Action need more ongoing funding. If we can help people lose weight, exercise and self-manage their condition, then we can reduce the need for surgery,” Ms Kirby said.