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Hospital Waiting Times On The Rise

Latest figures show that the Government's promises of cutting waiting times for elective services is not happening, National Health Spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

The Elective Services Quarterly Report to the end of September 2001 shows 898 fewer people received elective inpatient treatment than in the previous quarter. This is a direct contrast to the Government's election pledgecard to reduce elective treatment waiting times and lists.

"The number of people on active review - those who are waiting to join the waiting list for elective services - has increased dramatically, almost 7000 from 18,714 in the first quarter of 2000-01 to 25,506 in the same quarter 2001-02.

"Many health boards are showing hundreds, and even thousands for the Counties Manukau, fewer patients are being given certainty of treatment. The figures show hundreds more patients are being referred back to GPs to wait longer for treatment, and in many areas fewer outpatients are being seen.

"In several areas increased numbers of patients are waiting longer than six months and 18 months for first specialist assessment. More people are waiting longer than six months in Southland, South Canterbury, MidCentral, Lakes, Nelson-Marlborough, Northland, Wairarapa and Tarawhiti.

"These elective services statistics are of great concern when DHBs around the country are starting to indicate that they are considering cuts to services due to lack of funding. In the past week the Auckland, Waitemata and Southland DHBs have reported they may have to cut services. Any cutbacks put elective services at risk," Mr Sowry said.


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