District health boards are to get greater flexibility to enter into contracts with private hospitals in a bid to substantially boost the amount of elective surgery, Health Minister Tony Ryall.
Mr Ryall has spelled out his plans for closer co-operation between the public and private health systems.
In a speech in Wellington, he said private hospitals do more elective, or non-urgent, surgery than public hospitals which are required to also handle urgent and complex cases.
He wants improved flexibility in contracting between district health boards and private hospitals, to allow better planning by both.
Mr Ryall is also critical of what he says is a non-existent relationship between health ministry officials and private hospitals, and says he may establish a dedicated desk for the topic at the ministry.