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Strike will affect 20,000 patients

Hon Tony Ryall National Party Health Spokesman

14 June 2006

Strike will affect 20,000 patients, thousands more could be culled

Close to 20,000 patients will be affected by the junior doctors' strike, with thousands more likely to be squeezed off hospital waiting lists as a result, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

Yesterday, Health Minister Pete Hodgson told Parliament that 10,000 patients would be affected. But a National Party survey of DHBs today shows that it is closer to 20,000 patients.

"Not only will 20,000 patients have their care disrupted as hospitals close down services, others will find themselves culled from waiting lists altogether," says Mr Ryall.

In Parliament's health select committee today, Ministry of Health officials admitted there is a real risk the strike will see more patients culled from waiting lists.

"The compounding effect of the strike means thousands of patients will be shuffled off waiting lists altogether as a result of the strike victims being booked back into the system. This will happen even if the strike is called off or shortened.

"How, after seven long years, is 20,000 patients being mucked around still everyone else's responsibility but the Labour Government's?

"Mr Hodgson said he had been briefed for months about the junior doctors' negotiation, yet he's allowed it to get to this state.

"He has done nothing to avoid disrupting the care of thousands of patients. Imagine being told you would have an operation, only to have your life disrupted by a strike that doesn't need to happen?

"This is truly a crisis of Labour's own making," says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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