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Critics Must Get The Facts Straight First

Critics Must Get The Facts Straight First

If people want to use a report as a basis for their criticism of our health professionals, one would think that they would actually read the report thoroughly first," ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Critics - including Professor Peter Davis and the Health and Disability Commissioner - have jumped on the bandwagon, using a recently published report to attack doctors and nurses for medical errors which are, in fact, the result of flawed Government policy," Mrs Roy said.

"This widely publicised report, published in the latest issue of `Health Affairs', is the result of a survey conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine. It compares our health system with those of Australia, Canada, Britain and the US, and asked patients to rate their physicians.

"While critics have been quick to refer to the report's findings in their negative opinions of our medical profession, a thorough reading would have shown them that New Zealand doctors were rated above those in other countries.

"The report stated that `Despite evidence of communication failures, the majority of sicker adults in all five countries rated their physician highly (excellent or very good) on questions about care relationships: listening to their health concerns (76 percent of New Zealand patients agreed), treating them with dignity and respect (83 percent), being accessible (68 percent), spending enough time with them (72 percent), or diagnosing their problems correctly (68 percent)'

"It went on to say `Ratings of `excellent' or `very good' tended to be highest in New Zealand' and `In New Zealand, high ratings of personal physicians co-existed with high levels of dissatisfaction with the health care system overall'.

"What the critics have failed to note is that it is systemic failure - such as long waiting lists - that has drawn the most patient criticism. Patients are not telling us that it is the doctors and nurses that are failing them, but the system.

"It is time that Health Minister Annette King stopped blaming medical staff for her failures. Her constant devolving of responsibility, to the medical profession, is simply uninformed and self-serving. I am calling on the Minister to read this report - thoroughly - and heed its findings. Then, perhaps, she will finally admit that the system is failing both patients and staff," Mrs Roy said.

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