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What's The Score, Labour?

What's The Score, Labour?

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today attacked the huge surgery criteria discrepancies that exist in District Health Boards throughout the country, and said they were yet another example of the Labour Government putting patients' lives at risk.

"The recent report in the `Dominion Post' show that the `points' system - where surgery priority is based on how many `points' a patient has - is endangering lives," Mrs Roy said.

"The huge discrepancies in the system are disgraceful. Patients living in Auckland need 35 points to become eligible for surgery, whereas those in Otago and Southland require 67. It seems that Aucklanders' lives are more valued than those of South Islanders. In Wellington, patients with a score of 35 go on the waiting list but, unless they score 50, they will end up on a low priority list.

"Predictably, with such a sporadic approach, serious problems have arisen. Each DHB is setting the scene based solely on available funding, and are contracted by the Health Ministry to perform a set number of operations a year on the basis of funding.

"This inequitable situation highlights the fact that it is not the doctor seeing the patient who makes the decision about surgery - an enormously frustrating situation for both the surgeon and patient.

"Through it all, Health Minister Annette King continues to wash her hands of these problems by devolving responsibility for decision making to the DHBs - one might argue that, as Wellington is her constituency, she is immune to the huge problems elsewhere.

"That said, however, the recent situation in Wellington - where two heart patients were twice admitted for surgery, twice sent home, only to die - is unacceptable. Especially when the private Wakefield Hospital, just across the road, could have operated within 24 hours. Wakefield Hospital, however, has not had the contract since June 2001.

"The Labour Government's ideological objection to a private sector contribution to healthcare is costing patients their lives - patients who have already been approved for surgery. I am sure that patients don't care where their surgery is performed - what they do care about is having to sit on a waiting list while their condition deteriorates, and their risk of dying increases each day," Mrs Roy said.

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