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Urgent debate needed public health prioritisation

Urgent debate needed on public health prioritisation

Health Minister Annette King's statement that a debate over the prioritisation of health care in the public sector would not be helpful shows a gross lack of knowledge about her portfolio, says National's Health spokeswoman Dr Lynda Scott.

Dr Scott's call for such a debate comes in response to a Ministry of Health-funded report showing that doctors are encouraging patients to lie and exaggerate symptoms in order to receive timely treatment.

"District Health Boards across New Zealand are rationing health care, and every DHB is doing it differently. In a country this size, we need to be consistent," says Dr Scott.

"The public has not been given the chance to debate what should and should not be given priority treatment. It's time that debate was held.

"The public health service offers excellent acute care and surgery but that often means that booked elective surgery gets delayed or cancelled. The only way to ensure certainty in health is to utilise our private hospitals," says Dr Scott.

"It is an indictment on Labour's health reforms that every DHB is failing to meet six-month deadlines for specialist assessments. The Ministry of Health's own statistics show that less orthopaedic and ophthalmologic procedures have been carried out in the last year than in 1999, when National was last in Government.

"I would like to see more New Zealanders with private health insurance. "The Government's public-only policy denies patients crucial health care and puts unnecessary pressure on our public hospitals," says Dr Scott.

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