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Lives Just A Numbers Game To Minister King

Friday 30 Jul 2004 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

Reports today, that Wellington Hospital provided 49 fewer heart operations than it was contracted to do and underspent its cardiothoracic budget by $376,000, is bad news for Wellingtonians that carries a sense of déjà vu, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Media reports today refer only to Wellington Hospital but, I am told, this is a trend that is arising throughout the country," Mrs Roy said.

"Private Wakefield Hospital - which had the heart surgery contract in the past, and managed to eliminate the waiting list - has been given a few operations to perform. But it isn't a case of Wakefield being on stand-by in case the public hospital needs it in emergency situations.

"To cater for the people of Wellington effectively, Wakefield Hospital needs some certainty. While it has the available space and surgeons, it cannot be expected to take on heart surgery at a moment's notice. Contracts must be decided in advance to ensure that Wakefield is properly prepared to take on Wellington Hospital's overflow.

"An underspent budget is a terrible thing - Health Minister Annette King, however, will not be making a fuss as her main priority is ensuring that the hospital budget balances at the end of the year. Meanwhile, heart patients are left to wait and worry at home.

"When will this Government place more importance on patients than its philosophical objection to private healthcare? For those waiting for heart surgery, this is not a political matter. They need surgery, Wakefield Hospital can provide it, but Ms King is more worried about State control and balancing her books," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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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