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Waiting surgery hopefuls soar to 120,000

Waiting surgery hopefuls soar to 120,000

Heather Roy
Monday, 16 May 2005
Press Releases - Health

The number of New Zealanders waiting for a First Specialist Assessment has skyrocketed by 13 percent in the last six months, ACT Health spokesman Heather Roy revealed today.

Mrs Roy was commenting on new figures, obtained from the Ministry of Health under the Official Information Act and written Parliamentary Questions, which show that in the six months to the end of March, the number of Kiwis being assessed for surgery has ballooned by 6,245 to 119,696.

Patients are referred for a First Specialist Assessment when their family doctor considers their condition warrants an operation, or warrants an assessment by a specialist as to whether they need an operation.

Over half of the surge in numbers (3,206) were in the Auckland and Waitemata District Health Board areas, with significant increase also in Canterbury (10 percent) and Waikato (8 percent).

"There are now around 120,000 patients waiting for their First Specialist Assessment. Of these, 26,395 have been waiting over six months, a rise of 14 percent in the number waiting longer than Health Minister Annette King's promised maximum six month waiting time," Mrs Roy said.

"New information also reveals that Labour is set to boost health spending by $1 billion in the budget. This new spending is not for extra services and merely highlights Labour's cynical vote-buying mentality.

"This extra spending will be soaked up by the existing $550 million annual increase, $110 million a year for asset testing, $145m for the nurses Pay Jolt, $61m for the Holidays Act, additional DSS (Aged Care) of $50m, $50m for demographics and numerous additional announcements that take the increase to well over $1 billion.

"The tragedy is that there is no health gain. Ms King's own figures show that despite Labour pouring billions more dollars into health, the number of operations has not budged, with 61,000 patients assessed as needing surgery but left languishing on waiting lists.

"Labour's record $1 billion election year spend-up will not deliver any more operations, and sets the health system up for a crisis as the economy begins to slow down," Mrs Roy said.

* Figures available on request.


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