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Aotearoa: Land Of The Long Wait For Surgery

Aotearoa: Land Of The Long Wait For Surgery

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today released new information showing that tens of thousands of New Zealand patients are not just waiting for much-needed operations - they're officially waiting to go on the waiting list for surgery.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that, as of June 2004, 31,082 Kiwi patients were languishing on `Active Review' - the waiting list to get on the waiting list," Mrs Roy said.

"Throughout the country, thousands upon thousands of patients are waiting to wait for elective surgery - 8,245 patients are waiting to be placed on the waiting list for orthopaedic surgery, 6,130 are in need of General Surgery, and 3,799 require Ear Nose and Throat operations. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

"Patients facing the longest waits are those in Counties-Manukau, where there are 5,362 on `Active Review' and Waikato, which has 5,029. But almost every DHB in the country currently has hundreds - if not thousands - of patients waiting for a chance to wait their turn.

"Yet Prime Minister Helen Clark and Health Minister Annette King trumpet that waiting list numbers are dropping. What they don't say is that most patients on waiting lists are simply dumped onto the lesser-known `Active Review' category - even though GPs and specialists have assessed these patients as needing operations.

"In `Active Review' Miss Clark and Ms King have found an effective tool in their bid to look good: a rug under which to sweep patients requiring elective surgery, and allow Labour to pretend it is offering the healthcare it was elected to provide.

"Under Labour's stewardship, there has been an explosion in the numbers on `Active Review' - skyrocketing from 127 when the Government took office, to 31,082 today. Waiting lists may be dropping, but patients are not being treated.

Once again, the Labour Government is using `smoke and mirror' tactics to hide its failure. But, no matter how hard Miss Clark and Ms King try, there is no way to hide more than 31,000 people who need medical attention.

"It's time for this Government to front up and come clean on the true number of people awaiting elective surgery. Shuffling people around is not the way to run a health system. This is not a numbers game; Labour is playing with people's lives," Mrs Roy said.

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