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Axed surgery putting patients at risk

Axed surgery putting patients at risk

More patients will die on waiting lists unless health boards like Capital and Coast District Health Board contract out surgery to other providers, says National Health spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

Dr Scott says the death of a 43-year-old man booked twice for cardiac surgery but sent home both times from Wellington Hospital because of a shortage of intensive care beds was a tragedy.

"This is what happens when a health board believes it is an 'achievement' to bring all surgery and sub contracting in-house. Capital and Coast used to contract its overspill of surgery to the private Wakefield Hospital but stopped doing this two years ago.

"If it was still contracting out these services, this man may not have died and many others who have had their operations postponed would have had their operations, be feeling better and not be under stress.

"People facing surgery postponement is not just happening in cardiac surgery, or in Wellington. All over New Zealand, acute surgery patients are displacing elective surgery patients in public hospital beds. The problem with cardiac cases is that missing out on surgery can mean death.

"I am surprised that Capital and Coast Health regards it an 'achievement' to reduce its surgery options to patients, and that in a drive to clear elective waiting lists, it has left itself so exposed that it has no acute beds available for patients like this Kapiti man.

"I reiterate my call for an inquiry into deaths of patients on waiting lists at Wellington and why it changed from using other hospitals for overflow patients. The Minister must hold Capital and Coast to account for not using cardiac surgery money on heart patients which has caused other patients to die waiting for surgery," Dr Scott said.

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