Spinal injury sufferers are set to be given a better chance of recovery under a government plan that will see them transported straight to specialist hospitals "wherever feasible".
From August 1, anyone suspected of having spinal cord damage will be rushed from the scene of injury to either Middlemore or Christchurch Hospital for adults, or Starship Hospital for children.
That would mean a quicker journey to the operating theatre for patients in need of emergency spinal surgery.
“We know it is best for patients with suspected spinal cord injuries to get to a specialist spinal service as soon as possible for treatment,” Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said.
“This helps to minimise the potential for complications. It also means that rehabilitation can start sooner so optimal long-term outcomes can be achieved."
The Spinal Cord Injury Destination Plan plan is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health and ACC.
“Last year, around 100 people received spinal cord injuries in New Zealand, and ACC currently supports around 2,000 people with spinal injuries overall, ACC minister Nikki Kaye said, adding that car crashes are the main cause of injury.
Ambulance staff have undergone training programmes to prepare them for the new initiative.