Under a new plan from the Ministry of Health, people with suspected spinal cord injuries will be taken straight to a specialist unit.
Between 130 and 180 people are diagnosed with spinal cord damage each year, many due to traumatic injuries.
Until now, patients have generally been taken to the nearest hospital, then transferred to a specialist spinal unit later on.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said from next month they would be taken straight to a specialist unit at either Middlemore, Christchurch or Starship hospitals.
He said the sooner they could access specialist treatment, the better their chance of recovery.