New Zealand rehabilitation services are in a "woeful" state and a nationwide strategy of rehabilitating patients is needed to stop more people living with preventable disabilities.
The Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association say the strategy should be developed straight away.
It has released a joint paper, Call for a New Zealand Rehabilitation Strategy, outlining the benefits of a nationwide strategy.
There is a consensus amongst health and political leaders that New Zealand is moving towards an unsustainable health and social support system, says AFRM president Stephen de Graaff.
"There are great disparities in rehabilitation services across the country and a national strategy is crucial to improving the health, wellbeing and functional abilities of New Zealanders who experience living with a disability," he said
The paper cited Health Workforce New Zealand chief executive Des Gorman's description of the state of New Zealand's rehabilitation services as "woeful".
Cynthia Bennett, the clinical head of rehabilitation at Counties Manukau DHB, says rehabilitation is an integral component of healthcare, yet many New Zealanders have poor access to specialist rehabilitation.
"Our population is growing, as is the percentage of New Zealanders living with disability," she said.
There was substantial evidence that timely and skilled rehabilitation would ultimately lead to better health outcomes, she said.