Development of the General Surgery Prioritisation Tool Implemented in New Zealand in 2018
Patients waitlisted for elective general surgery in New Zealand used to be prioritised by multiple tools that were inconsistent, did not reflect clinical judgement and were not validated. We describe the development and implementation of a national prioritisation tool for elective general surgery in New Zealand, which could be applicable to other OECD countries. The tool aims to achieve equity of access, transparency, reliability and should be aligned with clinical judgement. The General
... The General Surgery Prioritisation Tool Working Group commenced development of a prioritisation tool in 2014 which showed strong correlation with clinical judgement (r = 0.89), excellent test-retest reliability (r = 0.98) and significantly lower variability (p < 0.001). Preliminary findings showed no significant difference in scores attributable to age, gender or ethnicity. General Surgeons were in favour of the tool criteria and agreed on the importance of prioritisation; however a minority opposed its introduction. Health organisations and general practitioner groups were in favour, however, along with many surgeons, expressed apprehensions regarding subjectivity, manipulation, equity of access and degree of benefit. Despite reservations, the majority of stakeholders were supportive and through collaboration between clinicians and the government, the tool was implemented in 2018 in New Zealand. Overall, the prioritisation tool is a reliable method of assessing priority, demonstrating transparency and reflecting clinical judgement, with equity of access to be further assessed by evaluation in clinical practice.