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Wellingtonians Dying Waiting For Heart Surgery

ACT Health Spokesman Ken Shirley forced Health Minister Annette King to concede that 225 people are now waiting for urgent heart surgery at Wellington Hospital - and he cited the Government's dogmatic refusal to accept private sector assistance as contributing to a worsening situation.

"The Minister also conceded that some 51 have also been waiting longer than the recommended maximum six months and furthermore that the average waiting time has doubled from two months to four months," Mr Shirley said.

"Previously Capital Coast Health had a contract with the private sector Wakefield Hospital to perform up to 20 heart operations per month to ensure that the waiting list did not expand and that the time of waiting was not extended.

"Last year the new District Health Board refused to renew this contract and now Wellingtonians face longer queues with more and more entering the danger zone having waited for more than six months.

"This is a dreadful example of political dogma overriding common sense solutions. Inevitably avoidable deaths will occur because of this Government's refusal to utilise capacity in the private hospital system.

"Wellington Hospital faces an inherent conflict because it is an acute crisis hospital. Elective surgery is constantly bumped by immediate crisis cases. Private hospitals are able to achieve higher productivity because they are not disrupted by emergencies.

"Both the public and private sector should concentrate on what they can do best and people's lives should not be placed in danger by political dogma," Ken Shirley said.


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