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Labour has no heart for surgery

Paul Hutchison
National Party Health Spokesman

20 July 2005

Labour has no heart for surgery

National’s Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison, says reports that heart patients are unlikely to get surgery in a public hospital until they have a heart attack show that Labour has failed to improve the health system, despite billions more going into health.

“Health information statistics show that the number of heart operations carried out at the Auckland, Waikato, Capital and Coast, and Canterbury DHBs were significantly less in 2003/04 than the year before,” says Dr Hutchison.

“Annette King and Helen Clark say they are putting more money into other areas of surgery, but with heart surgery there is neglect as well as a serious loss of productivity.

“Despite Auckland DHB claiming that in May it achieved the highest volume of heart operations in the past 12 months, there were 100 patients given a commitment to treatment but not treated within six months, compared with 82 in March. There were 108 patients on active review who had not received a clinical assessment within the past six months, compared to 95 in March. There were 131 patients who had not been managed according to their assigned status and who should have received treatment, compared with 114 in March.

“Considering that Annette King said in Parliament on 23 June 2005 ‘I am very satisfied with the number of heart procedures carried out in New Zealand’, she now has some explaining to do.

“A major proposition from Labour in 1999 was that for a little more tax they would fix health and education. The pledge card from Ms Clark said ‘my commitment to you, we will deliver’. Labour’s delivery in heart surgery demonstrates serious failure.

Their overall performance in health has been characterised by waste, inefficiency and unfulfilled expectations,” says Dr Hutchison.


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