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Surgeons Criticise Ministerial Attack

Surgeons Criticise Ministerial Attack on Hawkes Bay District Health Board

13.4.2006

The National Board Chairman Murray Pfeiffer of the Royal Australasian College Surgeons New Zealand says the Hawkes Bay district Health Board’s decision to refer 1800 patients waiting for first specialist assessment back to their GPs has more to do with the lack of Government resources than it has to do with ethics or systems management.

He says it is a scandal that the Government does not provide sufficient resources for all those referred by a GP to be seen by a specialist.

GPs refer patients for specialist opinion in good faith because they believe it will benefit them and claims that they could better manage the system are fundamentally insulting to their intelligence, he says.

The DHB can’t be expected to know what resources it requires for surgery until patients have been assessed. “The Minister is expecting the Board to be clairvoyant,” he says.

“It is a classic mistake to believe that all surgeons do is operate – in my practice the vast majority of people I see go nowhere near the operating theatre. Patients need to be given the opportunity to be assessed so that surgeons can see what their needs are.” he says.

“The Hawkes Bay District Health Board has little control over the number of case referred for first patient assessment. It appears that even though GPs are aware of the criteria they need for referrals out-strips the resources available by about 170 cases per month.

“This is nothing to do with a lack of ethics. All over the country the system is totally under resourced and people are suffering, their quality of life is suffering and their humanity is being diminished through chronic illness,” he says.

ENDS

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