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Patients counted, but no surgery

Hon Tony Ryall National Party Health Spokesman

15 March 2006

Patients counted, but no surgery

People who haven't had any surgery are being counted as surgical discharges by the Government, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

In Parliament today, Health Minister Pete Hodgson admitted that patients don't even need to have surgery to be counted as a surgical discharge. "For years, Labour Ministers have quoted surgical discharges as proof that more surgery is taking place," says Mr Ryall.

"But National today revealed Ministry of Health advice to the Government that 'discharges from surgical specialities simply indicate that a patient passed through a surgical service and was discharged from that service. They do not have to receive an operation to be included...'

"This means someone sent home after a cancelled operation can be counted as a surgical discharge.

"Mr Hodgson further admitted that the number of people getting surgery or passing through a surgical ward has remained unchanged, at around 205,000, in 2001 and 2005

"Despite all the extra money that has gone into the health system, no more people are getting surgery," says Mr Ryall. "Furthermore, the surgery taking place today is more complex than five years ago. Patients have to be sicker now to get an operation. "After six long years, and $4 billion extra, this Government has failed to make any inroads into boosting the number of operations performed," says Mr Ryall.


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