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Turner: Use private system in cataract operation

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Turner: Use private system in cataract operation mix

United Future deputy leader Judy Turner welcomed today's announcement of increased funding to tackle the major backlog in cataract surgery, but warned DHB decision-makers not to relegate the capacity of private hospitals to do these operations to a measure of last resort.

"Ultimately, the bottom line must be achieving desperately needed improvements in the quality of life of older New Zealanders - fast," Mrs Turner said.

"The Health Minister's insistence that DHBs use their own facilities first, those of other DHBs if there are delays, and then private facilities as a third backup option is skewed logic, which could see our elderly family members miss out on the quick treatment possible through effective partnerships with the private health sector," she said.

"Practical concerns such as getting transport to clinics and long waiting times are big matters for people with reduced mobility and deteriorating eyesight. Sending people long distances to services in neighbouring DHBs for what is usually a short 20 minute procedure is ridiculous when a private clinic is right around the corner with spare capacity for operations.

"I commend the establishment of the Minister's working group to identify efficiencies and innovative ways of achieving greater volumes of cataract surgery, but I urge them not to miss the obvious solution staring them in the face."

ENDS

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