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Treatment when you need it

Treatment when you need it

Heather Roy Sunday, 11 September 2005 Speeches - Health

Speech to waiting list remembrance services in Auckland, Wellington, New Plymouth, Christchurch, 1.15pm, September 2005.

September 11 symbolises death for many people.

The loss of innocent lives. Families torn apart by death.

On September 11, 2000, Margaret Webster's family was torn apart when she woke to find her 15-year-old daughter Angie dead in her bed.

Not from a terrorist attack but by another killer, Labour's hospital waiting lists.

Angie was young and beautiful, but needed a $5000 operation to correct an abnormal heart beat.

Angie was told her condition was not life threatening and she would have to wait about 18 months for surgery.

Angie's death was needless. No parent should have to watch their child die, especially when that death was unavoidable and unnecessary.

But Margaret Webster is not alone in her grief.

We are here today to remember Angie, but let us also remember the 1,152 people who died on Labour's hospital waiting list last year.

Many of those people would still be alive today if they had received surgery when they needed it.

Health is Labour's greatest failure.

A Treasury report shows Labour has thrown an extra $3.5 billion a year into health yet there has been no increase in elective surgery under Labour.

There are 180,692 New Zealanders languishing on waiting lists. Even more than the 180,200 people on waiting lists when Labour was elected in 1999.

Despite Labour's determination to stop the facts from coming out, doctors visits are now dearer for many people, waiting lists are longer, there are less operations per head of population and the number of people dying on waiting lists each year is increasing.

For an extra $3.5 billion a year we have more bureaucracy, too many people on boards and more deaths on our waiting lists.

The answer to our health services is not more tax and more spend. $3.5 billion in extra public spending hasn't cut waiting lists, neither will another billion or two. The left's policy approach has failed.

The taxpayer is getting very poor value for their health dollar. New Zealand's health system is a demonstration of how state monopolies do not work.

So with an aging population and more sophisticated medical equipment and techniques available every week, we must look to new ways of funding and providing healthcare to Kiwis in the 21st century.

The present blinkered political ideology will only ever result in a monopoly public health system that can only provide significantly rationed services - queues for care where supply is substantially below demand for basic treatment.

There is no doubt that health is a difficult area but we could be doing so much better. ACT is offering a completely different prescription this election.

ACT will lift the standard of New Zealand's health care system to that of other English speaking countries, particularly Australia and Great Britain.

In order to do that we will abandon the current government's ideological hostility to private medicine and break down the artificial barrier between private and public. We will give patients more choice.

There is no reason why private hospitals cannot be used to reduce waiting lists. Indeed it is our expectation that many private services will be more efficient than public ones.

ACT believes the waiting list tragedy is an outrage and the result of disgraceful government neglect.

In truth, the number of people needing operations grows each year. Even if we do more operations, the list still grows. New medical procedures, people living longer-the number wanting and needing operations will continue to outstrip public capacity.

A new approach is needed.

At the core of ACT's plan, is a new commitment that hasn't been seen before.

Our commitment is to cut the waiting from 180,600 to 120,000 in three years time.

That is the degree of our concern for the suffering of those on our waiting lists.

ACT would:

- Set aside $250 million of health funding and require DHB's to utilise the private health sector effectively to reduce waiting lists from 180,000 to 120,000 in three years.

- ACT will provide financial incentives so that more people can afford private treatment and health insurance.

- Act will cut health bureaucracy and reduce the numbers of members on District Health Boards.

We must stop the waiting and the needless suffering and deaths. ACT's vision for healthcare in the 21st century is "treatment when you need it."


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