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Minister against inquiry into heart patient deaths

Minister against inquiry into heart patient deaths

National says it is appalled that the Minister of Health doesn't support an inquiry how two men who had cardiac surgery delayed at Wellington Hospital, died of heart attacks while awaiting operations.

"What we have is deaths occurring here for ideological reasons. These two men would be alive today if Wellington Hospital transferred them to private hospital for surgery when they needed it.

Kapiti man John Russell, and another man waiting for surgery at Wellington, died of heart attacks after their surgery was cancelled. Mr Russell died the day after his second surgery cancellation.

"Until recently the Capital and Coast District Health Board booked its overflow of heart patients into private facilities for surgery. It cancelled this contract with a private provider last year to impress the Minister of Health who opposes private health care.

"Instead of being on a waiting list of more than 80 people waiting more than six months for surgery in January this year, these men could have had surgery. How many more ideological deaths are gong to happen because this board's aversion private health care?

"It is most concerning that the Minister told Parliament today there will be no inquiry into these cases.

"This health board's response to concerns about these deaths, that it offers them an overnight stay in hospital and stress counselling, is an insult. These patients need surgery not sympathy. The Minister should be addressing these deaths rather than endorsing the board's spin and quoting old figures which mean nothing to patients and their families," said Dr Scott.

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