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Waiting list cull patients ‘will die’

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

Waiting list cull patients ‘will die’

A senior cancer specialist has warned some waiting list patients will be sent home to die as the nationwide waiting list cull gathers pace, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

“Health Minister Pete Hodgson must start dealing with this crisis, instead of manipulating waiting list figures,” says Mr Ryall.

“This is out of control. He must deal with the concerns and fears of specialists and patients up and down the country.”

Mr Ryall’s call follows comments from Christchurch Hospital Professor of Colorectal Surgery, Frank Frizelle, who is facing culling 1,000 patients awaiting a colonoscopy to diagnose bowel cancer.

Twenty-two Kiwis die each week from bowel cancer – the highest rate in the world.

Professor Frizelle has said that patients dumped and not diagnosed early will die, and the cull is driven by finance not best medical practice. His comments echo those of other senior medical specialists who have described the cull as ‘dangerous and risky’.

“In Wellington, more than 2,500 patients are facing the waiting list cull as their DHB bows to Government pressure to slash lists. Already DHBs have announced 12,000 patients have been or will be culled from waiting lists to see specialists,” says Mr Ryall.

"Even top priority patients are facing the chop. Patient care is being sacrificed for bureaucracy. How can Mr Hodgson claim that patients will be better off at home when many will get worse and require more expensive treatment? It is false economy.

"The Government is considering a national screening programme for bowel cancer. This is just hypocrisy when a thousand people can’t even get diagnosed!

"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,” says Mr Ryall.

Ends

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