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Long wait times sign of deeper problems

For immediate use

19 July 2018

Long wait times sign of deeper problems with health resourcing

“The long wait for important diagnostic scans at one of the country’s largest district health boards is yet another sign of unmet patient need catching public hospitals on the hop,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

He was commenting on reports that patients were waiting longer than six weeks for CT and MRI scans at Waitemata DHB, with experts saying it could have a negative effect on their health (https://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=12090633).

“This will be a concern for patients and their families, and also for the hospital specialists treating them,” says Mr Powell.

“The DHB appears to be doing all it can to acknowledge and respond to the long wait times, in the short-term at least, but this is obviously placing pressure on hospital systems. All the goodwill in the world and all of the work-arounds cannot fix long wait times if there are not enough relevant specialised staff.

“It is part of a broader picture of increasingly high levels of health need which hospitals are struggling to respond to, and also a longstanding shortage of radiologists (as part of serious shortages of specialists generally).

“The Government has made some positive first steps to improve the public health sector’s resourcing, but situations like that at Waitemata DHB are yet another reminder that much more needs to be done. This serious situation is not confined to Waitemata.”

ENDS


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