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Increases In Numbers Awaiting Elective Services

27 May 2002

Big Increases In Numbers Awaiting Elective Services

The Government's pledge to address elective services waiting times isn't working, with more than double the numbers of patients waiting for some services in the year ended December 2001, latest statistics show, National Health Spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

The Elective Services quarterly report shows the numbers waiting longer than six months for treatment increased markedly in cardiology, cardiothoracic, gynaecology, neurosurgery, orthopaedics and paediatric surgery. There were also large increases in the numbers waiting for first specialist assessment in endoscopy, gynaecology, neurology, oncology and orthopaedics.

"The Government pledged to reduce waiting times and numbers but these statistics show more people are waiting longer," Mr Sowry said.

"The numbers waiting longer than six months for first specialist assessment increased by 3714 patients to 36,261 patients in just one quarter. That is a terrible statistic," Mr Sowry said.

"A reduction of 1153 elective discharges over one quarter shows that district health boards are performing fewer procedures for the same money because the Government will not fund for cost growth.

"In the last quarter there have been notable drops in the number of new outpatient referrals seen in Canterbury, Capital and Coast, Hutt, Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Waikato and Whanganui.

"I am most concerned that fewer patients are getting the surgery or treatment they need and more are waiting much longer just to be assessed, when, if you listened to the Government, you would think that all is rosy in our ailing health system," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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