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Moratorium on waiting list cull - National

Hon Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

7 May 2005

Moratorium on waiting list cull - National

National is calling for a moratorium on culling patients from hospital waiting lists as District Health Boards start to target even the sickest patients and senior specialists describe the cull as ‘dangerous and risky’.

"The waiting list cull is getting out of control. Senior medical specialists are calling it ‘dangerous and risky’. And now even top priority patients are facing the chop," says Mr Ryall.

His call comes as Canterbury DHB prepares to dump another 2,000 patients who are waiting to see specialists. The DHB has already dumped 2,000 people from their specialist waiting list this year.

"The Government should put a moratorium on culling the waiting lists. Senior medical specialists are now saying that preventing patients from getting their first specialist assessments is dangerous and risky. They say it is increasing uncertainty, stress and health risks for patients. Mr Hodgson, on the other hand, says patients are better off with their GP.

"It's clear Pete Hodgson has no idea what panic his edict to start culling has caused. Nor does he have any idea how much it’s costing the health system to shuttle these patients between their GPs and the various waiting lists in the system.”

A leading Canterbury immunologist has been reported as saying that some category A patients - those with greatest need to see a specialist - may be culled. Patients with degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and those suffering chronic pain will certainly be culled.

"There are 25,000 people who’ve been waiting more than six months to see a specialist. These people are at particular risk of being culled to meet the Government's demands.

“Doctors up and down the country tell me that the patients being culled would benefit from seeing a specialist.”

Mr Ryall says the patients being dumped are sicker.

"We know the kind of patients seen by specialists are getting sicker and the people getting operations are sicker. Therefore the people getting dumped must be sicker.

"Mr Hodgson is totally bewildered with no idea how to fix this. National says we could get more elective services through smart use of the private sector, greater involvement of specialists in decision-making, cuts to bureaucracy, and moving resources into services through a greater focus on value for money."


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