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Politicians Misusing Hospital Productivity Data

7 September 2005

Politicians Misusing Hospital Productivity Data

“Politicians should stop misusing Treasury productivity data for their own political ends,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was claims by National and ACT politicians that there was nothing to show for the extra funding the Labour-Progressive government had put into the health system since 1999 because productivity had allegedly declined.

“The accusation that hospital productivity has declined is false. In effect, it insults doctors, nurses and other health professionals who overwhelmingly are committed to providing high quality care to patients. Patients respect and value what they do; it is a pity that these politicians did as well.”

“The Treasury productivity data only covers inpatient discharges. Treasury itself knows that this is very limited information which only picks up a part of what public hospitals do. It does not include many hospital activities such as outpatient clinics, ongoing treatment of many chronic illnesses and community health initiatives. Much of the work done by physicians, paediatricians, psychiatrists, radiologists and pathologists is not picked up by this data.

It also fails to recognised advances in primary care with GPs doing some activities that were previously undertaken in public hospitals. All these activities actually keep patients out of hospital but by implication this is unproductive.” “Ironically the best way to improve the so-called productivity data would be to make public hospitals unsafe. Patients would die quickly so they could be discharged earlier. Is this really what politicians who make these irresponsible claims want?”

“Politicians should debate ideas, issues and policies about how to improve the health service rather than misuse data for political ends that has the effect of denigrating the hard work of dedicated health professionals,” concluded Mr Powell.


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