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Labour's shame: 1,166 die waiting

Labour's shame: 1,166 die waiting

ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy today revealed damning new hospital waiting list figures, forced from Health Minister Annette King, which show just why she waited till Christmas before releasing them.

At the end of September 2004, 62,201 patients assessed as needing surgery were on the official waiting lists, with a further 113,451 people on the waiting list for a First Specialist Assessment - that is, referred by their doctor to a specialist for assessment.

"This is a total of 175,652 New Zealanders who believed Helen Clark when she said that Labour would cut hospital waiting lists," Mrs Roy said.

The information, obtained from the Ministry of Health, also shows that in the year to September, 1,166 people died while languishing on Labour's waiting lists.

"Annette King bluff and blusters that there is no way of knowing how many of these people died because they didn't get their operation, but the facts show that the number dying while on her hidden waiting list has grown from 850 in the year to August 2002 to 1,166 in the year to September 2004.

"Labour promised to cut waiting lists when in Opposition. It has failed. In the last year, in addition to the 1,166 people dying, 3,554 gave up waiting on the public list and had their treatment privately.

"The key reason why waiting lists are still huge is the funding deceit by Helen Clark and Annette King in relation to District Health Boards.

"They claimed in this year's Budget to have increased operational funding for the 21 District Health Boards by $547.5 million, but analysis reveals that around $401 million of this is to cover inflation, Disability Services - previously directly funded by the Health Ministry - and extra administration costs."

Mrs Roy said the real increase for DHBs is around $146 million, which, under the move to population based-funding, is applied unevenly to the 21 Boards.

"This has resulted in winners and losers. Seven boards have an actual operational cut in real terms, and another seven have an increase of 2 percent or less.

"Helen Clark and Annette King promised to slash waiting lists. They have been forced to come clean on their failure, and Annette King should go," Mrs Roy said.

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