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Major A&E departments still failing

1 March 2006

Hon Tony Ryall National Party Health Spokesman

Major A&E departments still fail to see patients in time

All of New Zealand's major hospitals are failing to see emergency patients soon enough, according to National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"And that's why the Government is changing the way it measures how long it takes to deal with these patients," says Mr Ryall.

The latest Hospital Benchmark Report for the September 2005 quarter shows that no major DHB in New Zealand is meeting all three of the Government's benchmarks for triage waiting times.

"The report shows that only three DHBs met all three benchmarks, but these are all smaller DHBs where fewer New Zealanders attend, not the major areas where a greater number of patients would go.

"The real problem here is the pressure poor after-hours GP services are having on emergency departments."

Mr Ryall says the demand for after-hours services is not being met, and the high cost has put the service out of reach for too many people.

"This in turn is putting added pressure on our already stretched emergency departments. People are turning up to hospital with problems that would be better fixed by a GP.

"And that's why they are waiting so long, which is what the Government's Benchmark Report says.

"Mr Hodgson could fix these delays by fixing after-hours GP care.

"Instead, the Government is changing the way it measures emergency department wait times. It plans to count contact with an experienced nurse as contact with a doctor.

"Rather than change the rules, the Government should just fix the problem," says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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