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Major A&E departments still not up to scratch

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

25 May 2006

Major A&E departments still not up to scratch

New Zealand's major A&E departments are still failing to see emergency patients soon enough, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

And National is warning that emergency patients will wait even longer if GPs carry out their threat to stop providing after-hours care.

The latest Hospital Benchmark Report for the December 2005 quarter shows that no major DHB in New Zealand is meeting all three of the Government's benchmarks for triage waiting times.

"Just four DHBs met all three benchmarks for emergency triage times. They were Tairawhiti, Wairarapa, Nelson Marlborough and South Canterbury – all DHBs located in smaller cities and towns,” says Mr Ryall.

“Only Counties Manukau, West Coast and Otago DHBs met both the benchmarks for triage codes 1 and 2 – patients with immediate or imminent ‘life or limb threat’.

“DHBs are still failing to meet the target times. The huge amount of extra money being poured into the health system obviously isn't getting to where it’s needed.

"Health Minister Pete Hodgson could fix delays in emergency care by fixing after-hours GP care. The demand for after-hours services is not being met, and the high cost has put the service out of the reach of too many people.

“GPs are threatening to withdraw from after-hours care in the South Island, and this would put even greater pressure on A&E departments. The same rumblings are coming from GPs elsewhere.

"But, instead of doing something about it, the Government is changing the way it measures emergency department wait times. It plans to count contact with an experienced nurse as contact with a doctor.

“Too much energy, money and time is being spent on Labour covering its tracks, and not enough is finding its way to the frontline,” says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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