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AKL shouldn't accept orthopaedic complication rate

Dr Lynda Scott

National Health Spokeswoman

22 April 2004

AKL should not accept higher orthopaedic complication rates

Delayed operations and growing waiting lists for orthopaedic surgery at Auckland City Hospital are part of a nationwide decrease in joint operations, says National's Health spokeswoman, Dr Lynda Scott.

The Health and Independence Report 2003 shows the number of major joint replacements has decreased almost 20% since 1999/2000.

"Aucklanders healthcare is being jeopardised by the Auckland District Health Board's failure to keep up with surgery demands.

"Aucklanders should not accept higher complication rates because their surgery keeps being cancelled. It's just not good enough," she says.

A report by Auckland City Hospital Director of Orthopaedic Trauma, Dr Bruce Twaddle, shows 40% of acute orthopaedic operations are being delayed, waiting lists for the most serious operations have increased up to 30%, as well as a 13% increase in the operations' complication rates. Hospital management have acknowledged there is a problem.

Dr Scott says the juggling act proposed by the ADHB to better deliver bone surgery will only put more pressure on the struggling public system.

"Trying to better distribute the patients between Auckland's public hospitals will only scratch the surface of the problem. Transferring these patients has risks as well.

"The real issue is that there is too few theatres and not enough staff to man them.

"The only way to increase the number of operations performed is to better utilise the city's private hospitals, especially for booked elective surgery, so public hospital time can be freed up for acute surgery.

"But, the Government is only focussing on public hospitals.

"This policy denies patients crucial health care and putting more and more pressure on public hospitals. Getting people back on their feet, not enforcing its ideology, should be the Government's top priority", says Dr Scott.


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