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Patients culled not cured

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokeswoman

19 May 2004

Patients culled not cured as hospital productivity drops

Labour has made good on its promises to reduce waiting lists, but by culling patients from waiting lists rather than caring for them, says National's Health spokeswoman Dr Lynda Scott.

Treasury reports show public hospitals are performing fewer operations despite funding increases. This report comes on top of the Health and Independence Report released in December 2003, which shows that in the past year public hospitals performed almost 2500 fewer cataract and major joint surgeries than they did in 1999.

The Minister of Finance has twice written to the Minister of Health asking her to explain reduced public hospital productivity.

Dr Scott says even with more money, the health system, bogged down by excessive Government bureaucracy, has not increased the number of operations performed.

"Burgeoning bureaucracy is slowing the health system's ability to deliver, and there is few incentives to drive innovation.

"For a small nation, 21 District Health Boards is far too many, serving only to eat precious health dollars and leave sick New Zealanders without respite.

"DHB's need to act as true funders and use private hospitals to perform elective surgery that can be delivered on the day it is booked and not subject to late cancellation because of acute cases," says Dr Scott.


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