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Cardiac funding bypass puts lives at risk

Cardiac funding bypass puts lives at risk in Wellington

Revelations that money intended for cardiac operations in Wellington has been diverted to other areas shows the serious structural problems in the health system, said National's Health spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"I applaud the Minister of Health for telling the DHBs that the private health sector can make a valuable contribution to improving New Zealand's healthcare systems, but the problem is they don't seem to be listening.

"Unfortunately, she has set up a system of 21 District Health Boards that are firmly focussed on funding their own provider arm - the public hospital. Hence the Capital and Coast DHB has spent $1.7 million of cardiac money on other treatments. Other DHBs have also used ring-fenced mental health money to plug funding holes.

"Capital and Coast hospital manager John Coughlan claims it is more cost effective to do surgery in-house, rather than transferring to private hospitals. Tell that to the patient who might die waiting over six months for cardiac surgery.

"These patients are critical, their lives are on the line and it is unacceptable that DHBs do not use the money for what it was intended - giving these patients certainty of treatment within six months. Private hospitals can and should be used more extensively to meet these guidelines," said Dr Scott.

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