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Government Fails Doctors And Kills Patients

Tuesday 8 Jul 2003
Heather Roy
Press Releases -- Health

The death of meningococcal disease victim Nileema Sharan has highlighted many of the problems that currently exist in Accident and Emergency Departments throughout the country - and points to systemic failure, rather than the errors of individual health professionals, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Meningococcal disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose - especially when patients must compete for medical assistance in overcrowded, frequently under-staffed A&E departments," Mrs Roy said.

"Doctors and nurses allocate patients a priority rating when they arrive, and then treat them accordingly. They have no control over the number of people who walk through the door, and are regularly inundated with patients suffering from varying degrees of illness or injury.

"Few could claim this is an easy job - and it is made all the more difficult when Labour refuses to address the systemic failures of our health system. When problems occur throughout the country, it is clear that it is the system that is failing - not the individual health professionals at the coalface.

"When that same system's failure is happening around New Zealand, Health Minister Annette King must take responsibility for A&E service failures. She is not providing a safe working environment for health professionals, and is consequently denying patients adequate treatment - allowing some to die.

"For Prime Minister Helen Clark to be shocked, that anyone should have to wait three hours for treatment, shows she is out of touch with the inadequacies of our health system. Her disingenuous comments are extremely unhelpful when we have overworked, underpaid health professionals struggling in a system that is not up to scratch," Mrs Roy said.


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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