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113,451 NZers wait for their First Assessment

113,451 NZers wait for their First Specialist Assessment

ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy today revealed that the number of New Zealanders waiting for their First Specialist Assessment has risen 2,572 during the month of September 2004 to 113,451.

Mrs Roy was commenting on information recently released to her by the Ministry of Health.

"In August 1998, Health Minister Annette King - then in Opposition bluster mode - described the fact that 96,000 people were awaiting First Specialist Assessments as `criminal', and raged that people could be dying," Mrs Roy said.

"Annette King is conspicuous by her silence now that 17,000 more Kiwis are waiting."

The new information shows that 113,451 are awaiting First Specialist Assessments: 14,000 are in the Auckland DHB area; 11,800 in Counties-Manukau; and 10,200 in Canterbury. Capital and Coast had 7,324 waiting at the end of September.*

"It's a disgrace that 23,077 of the 113,451 have waited more than six months for their First Specialist Assessment - up 500 from August 2004.

"Helen Clark and Annette King have made it as difficult as possible to find these figures, and it is clear why. Despite all their promises, the total numbers of those waiting are only a little down from when Labour was elected.

"Annette King should be embarrassed for claiming 96,000 was criminal and that people could be dying. She should front up and admit she is failing New Zealanders considered by GPs to need surgery," Mrs Roy said.

* Waiting numbers for other DHB are available on request.

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