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Patients struck off second waiting list

Hon Tony Ryall - National Party Health Spokesman

18 April 2006

Double Cull: Patients struck off second waiting list

Thousands more sick patients are being quietly dumped from a second waiting list every month as the elective surgery crisis deepens, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"The 8,100 people dumped from this second list are over and above the thousands removed from the separate list involved in the first cull - those referred to see a specialist."

Mr Ryall has released information from the Health Minister showing that more than 8,100 patients who have seen a specialist were dumped off surgery waiting lists and referred back to their GPs.

Health Minister Pete Hodgson admitted tonight that the numbers culled could in fact be much higher.

"Unlike those recently culled in Hawke's Bay, these patients have seen a specialist, and that specialist decided they needed an operation," says Mr Ryall.

"Despite a specialist saying they needed an operation, and would likely meet the points requirement, these patients are being culled because of a lack of funding.

"This is the cruellest cut of all. These patients have survived the first cull, see a specialist, and find that surgery is needed, and then fall victim to the second cull.

"DHBs have been quietly dumping thousands of patients off this second waiting list for the past year, including:

* Canterbury - 2,400 * Counties Manukau - 1,400 * Otago - 750 * Bay of Plenty - 630 * Nelson - 500

"These patients were in the hospital booking system because a specialist said they warranted an operation. Sending them back to their GP is a false economy, because many of them will get sicker and sicker and then cost even more to treat.

"What this is all about is trying to make the waiting lists look shorter so the Government can claim some pathetic credit. It's what the Government told several DHBs to do in a letter sent three weeks ago.

"What's needed is a stronger focus on making the health dollar go further with less bureaucracy, supporting and involving the medical workforce, and greater co-operation between public and private services to get elective surgery waiting lists down.

"Under Labour, it seems patients now have to be within sight of the pearly gates before they get elective surgery," says Mr Ryall.

"Under Labour, it seems patients now have to be within sight of the Pearly Gates before they get elective surgery," says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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