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King's Waiting List Rage Returns To Haunt Her

King's Waiting List Rage Returns To Haunt Her

Months of pursuing the Health Minister Annette King to disclose the true number of patients on waiting lists has finally resulted in the revelation that, at the end of September 2004, there were over 62,000 people assessed by a specialist as needing treatment, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"The Minister's evasion over these numbers has been astounding. Information I obtained from New Zealand Health Information Services shows that the trumpeted reductions in the waiting list, for those already assessed by a specialist as needing surgery, are minimal - reducing only marginally from 67,000 in December 1999," Mrs Roy said.

"Further, there were another 110,879 people awaiting their first Specialist Assessment - only slightly down five years on from the December 1999 figure of 121,818. Of the 110,879 people on the list awaiting assessments at the end of August 2004, 22,527 had been waiting over six months.

"As Opposition health spokesman in 1998, Ms King was in vote-raking mode. She said that 96,000 patients awaiting assessment was `criminal', and warned that people could be dying while awaiting their First Specialist Assessment. Her opposition rage over waiting lists has come back to haunt her.

"Six months before the 1999 election, Ms King stated: `Under the booking system, the numbers have been manipulated. Tens of thousands of people have been thrown off the waiting lists. They've been told the public hospital system can't help them and they should go back to their GP'.

"If the Minister truly believes that waiting lists of 62,789 patients already assessed by a specialist as needing surgery and 110,879 awaiting first specialist assessments - a total of 173,608 - is a health system that's in good shape, then she has come to actually believe her own rhetoric and has been in the job too long," Mrs Roy said.

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