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Surgery Delays Unacceptable

"The Government's underfunding of hospitals has begun to severely impact on elective surgery before the ink has even had time to dry on the Budget," National's Health spokesman Roger Sowry said today.

"The price of this Government's underfunding of health services can now be measured in human misery. Annette King must go back to Cabinet and get the resources required to keep our public hospitals running."

Counties Manukau DHB has revealed that it will need to renege on a promise to 1,150 people that the surgery they need would be performed within six months.

"For those people, many of whom suffer from chronic pain and discomfort, this will come as a devastating blow," Mr Sowry said.

"Similar warnings have already been sounded by the District Health Boards in Otago and the Bay of Plenty and more DHBs will inevitably follow suit.

"To promise relief to people who are in pain and discomfort, then fail to keep that promise is a repulsive betrayal, and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of this Government.

"Prior to the 1999 election Labour relied heavily on the line that if you pay more taxes you will get more services. People are now paying more taxes, but there is no quid pro quo from the Government.

"Perhaps Annette King has forgotten Labour's pledge card promise to cut waiting times for elective surgery. Perhaps she has forgotten her 'buck stops here' rhetoric of last year. What is certain is that she has forgotten the duty of care she has for the public in her role as Health Minister. She has failed in that duty.

"In the case of Counties Manukau District Health Board, Government underfunding has already seen them perform 35 percent fewer joint replacements this year than the previous year, and they expect to perform 15 percent fewer again in the next year due to underfunding. Of the 1,453 people on the orthopaedic surgery waiting list, 953 have already waited longer than 6 months," Mr Sowry said.


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