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MidCentral patients face the axe

Hon Tony Ryall National Party Health Spokesman

24 April 2006

MidCentral patients face the axe

Another DHB has revealed it is under instruction to cull its waiting lists, with reports today that Palmerston North-based MidCentral Health may send up to 1,100 patients back to their GPs, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

MidCentral DHB managers have made it clear they are responding to a Government edict from Director-General of Health, Karen Poutasi, which says that if the DHB cannot see everyone referred for appointments within six months, it risks intensive monitoring by the Ministry of Health.

"Over the past fortnight, Pete Hodgson and Helen Clark have blamed the waiting list crisis on everyone but the Government, the very people responsible," says Mr Ryall.

"Pete Hodgson has called surgeons 'unethical'. Helen Clark blamed health board managers for the crisis. Both have utterly failed to take any responsibility.

"Now MidCentral patients and GPs will bear the brunt of Labour's drive to cut waiting lists by culling patients. "Health Ministry information shows that at the end of December last year more than 1,500 MidCentral patients had been waiting more than six months to see a specialist, with almost 1,000 waiting more than a year. Shockingly, more than 400 had been waiting over 18 months to see a specialist.

"Instead of issuing instructions to stop patients seeing specialists, the Government could improve elective services by a focus on value for money, cutting the bureaucracy, involving and trusting the health workforce, and the smart use of the private sector.

"These four action points could make a real difference to the level of elective surgery being provided around the country," says Mr Ryall.

Ends

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