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Concern over transfer of sick children

Dr Lynda Scott MP

National Party Health Spokeswoman

23 January 2004

Concern over transfer of sick children

The people of the West Coast need to be reassured that sending sick children to Christchurch for treatment is only an interim measure, says National's Health spokeswoman Dr Lynda Scott.

West Coast District Health Board announced it is transferring children to Christchurch after general physicians said they did not feel comfortable treating children who needed oncology, neurology and cardiac treatment. The board said it expects a solution as soon as possible. It expects about 150 children a year will be affected.

Dr Scott says transferring children to the other side of the South Island is a drastic step.

"I hope it is only an interim measure, and I would like a guarantee from Health Minister Annette King that this problem will be fixed. We have seen interim measures become permanent measures before, such as sending patients to Australia for treatment."

Dr Scott also calls on West Coast MP Damien O'Connor, who is Associate Minister of Health, to make sure all other options have been looked at.

"It seems to me this is another step in the breakdown of rural health services, which he is always talking about.

"He needs to explain how he will guarantee the safety of these children in the meantime, and what options there are in the case of an emergency when bad weather closes the roads or prevents the air ambulance taking off?"

Ends

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