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Heart patients’ lives at risk

Heart patients’ lives at risk as surgery waiting times grow

Health Minister Annette King is turning a blind eye to doctors’ complaints that people are dying while waiting for surgery, National says.

“If New Zealand is doing so well in health as the Health Minster claims when asked in Parliament about the struggling health system, then why are patients dying waiting n queues for heart surgery?” said National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

Newspapers have reported that 144 patients have been waiting longer than six months for cardiothoracic surgery at Green Lane and Wellington Hospitals, and 120 are awaiting surgery at Christchurch. The numbers have increased from 51 in early 2002 to 84 at Wellington Hospital.

At Green lane, 10 patients had waited longer than a year.

“Labour has no plan or solution to address this huge problem which is leaving patients in pain and restricting their quality of life. While Annette King criticised National’s Waiting Times Fund, which set aside $120m especially for burgeoning waiting times, but she’s not offering anything to replace it,” Dr Scott said.

“It has got to a dire situation when doctors are so desperate for a solution that they have to go public, and that the Minister is nowhere to be seen on such a serious issue.

“The Minister cannot hide behind district health boards on this issue - it is a nationwide problem and as the Minister of Health she must answer to patients, their families and doctors why more and more people are being left on waiting lists for six months and as long as a year.

“For the Minister to ignore and avoid this serious problem is complete arrogance,” said Dr Scott.

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