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Minister can't handle the worsening statistics

Health Minister can't handle the worsening statistics

Wednesday 9 Feb 2005 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

It is an outrage that the Minister of Health seems indifferent to the fact that more New Zealanders could be dying from illness associated with not getting their required elective surgery in time, ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy said today.

Mrs Roy's comments follow a media release issued by Annette King accusing the ACT MP of being dishonest by `using meaningless statistics to insinuate that 1,166 New Zealanders have died because they did not receive elective services they were waiting for.'

"The worst thing the Health Minister indifferently revealed in her vicious retort was the fact that up to 29 people (up to 2.5% of 1,166 who died while waiting) may have died from an illness directly associated with not getting their required elective surgery. The Minister didn't accept any deaths in Opposition but she is happy to in Government.

"I have only ever released the Minister's own data sourced from the New Zealand Health Information Service. The fact remain: the number of people dying while on Annette King's waiting lists has grown from 850 in the year to August 2002 to 1,166 in the year to September 2004.

"I never insinuated that 1,166 people were dying from being denied an operation. I was merely pointing out that in 12 months 1,166 New Zealanders died while waiting. There's no running away from the fact that the wait was so long, Heaven took them before their local hospital could!

"Getting all vicious is a bit rich given that Annette King in August 1998 described the fact that 96,000 people were awaiting First Specialist Assessments was `criminal', and raged that people could be dying. Now, we have over 113,000 people on the waiting list for a First Specialist Assessment (that is, referred by their doctor to a specialist for assessment) and she not only accepts it, but boasts of her success.

"Annette King is more interested in hurling personal abuse at me in an attempt to discredit the story but unfortunately for her she can't run from the figures. The Minister says she's proud of her record and her Ministry's transparency and accountability. But in reality the numbers are as bad as ever, and she has tried to bury the figures and the story as best she can.

"She can rant and rave all she likes but sadly all she is proving is that she can't handle the truth!," said Mrs Roy.


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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