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Will people die waiting while King remains idle?

Paul Hutchison - National Party Health Spokesman

4 March 2005

Will people die waiting while King remains idle?

The Health Minister must act before the crises at Auckland District Health Board cause unnecessary deaths, says National's Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

"After reports this morning that elective surgery patients are waiting even longer before being treated because of staff shortages, the question has to be asked: will people die waiting?"

The Ministry of Health's Elective Service Performance Indicator website paints a poor picture of waiting times at the ADHB:

* As at December 2004 there were 2,602 patients waiting longer than six months for their first specialist assessment. * There were 589 patients who were in 'active review' but who had not received a clinical assessment within the past six months. * There were 1,250 patients who were given a commitment of treatment but who were not treated within six months.

"The reality of the enormous financial challenges facing ADHB must also be faced up to by Health Minister Annette King," says Dr Hutchison.

The chairman of ADHB, Wayne Brown, told the health select committee last week that the budget deficit of $44 million this financial year would rise to $85 million next year.

He noted in his annual report that 'hospital-based services operated $29.4 million adversely to budget and this represents an unsustainable position which will prove to be a severe challenge to the board in the coming year'.

"Annette King has said the buck stops with her, yet she seems to have turned a blind eye to the myriad problems facing ADHB. She must face the reality that ADHB is in a precarious position, and realistic measures must be taken to avoid further crises," says Dr Hutchison.

ENDS

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