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Elective surgery crisis continues

Hon Tony Ryall National Party Health Spokesman

12 July 2006

Elective surgery crisis continues

The elective surgery crisis continues, with latest figures showing more than half of all DHBs struggling to match last year's number of operations, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"Despite the millions of extra dollars Labour talks about, fewer patients are getting elective surgery now than five years ago. The situation isn't getting any better," says Mr Ryall.

"On top of this, we know that elective operations are much more serious than five years ago.

"Patients have to be sicker now to get an elective operation. So the operations are bigger and more complex. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to work that out.

"But the Health Minister seems to take pride and comfort from this perverse, painful and costly consequence."

According to the Ministry of Health, in the 10 months ending April 2006, DHBs performed 90,655 elective procedures compared to 91,812 for the same period last year. Eleven of the 21 DHBs have slipped backwards.

Auckland's major DHBs have done 1,000 fewer elective procedures than a year earlier.

"The Government is going to blame any fall in elective surgery numbers on the June junior doctors strike. But these official figures show that even before the strike most DHBs were struggling to provide the same number of electives as last year.

"Labour's record is clear - much more money, fewer people treated.

"National says New Zealand needs smart use of the private sector, closer involvement by specialists and GPs, less bureaucracy, and a focus on value for money."

ENDS

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