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Ryall reveals elective surgery increase

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health


12 July 2006 Media Statement

Ryall reveals elective surgery increase under Labour

National's health spokesman Tony Ryall has made another confused mistake in his latest crisis call on elective surgery, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

"Tony Ryall set out to show that elective surgery volumes are set to fall this year, but has accidentally revealed the opposite," Pete Hodgson said.

"He's ignored warnings about the early use of health statistics and drawn attention to a report that shows that DHBs may over-deliver on their elective services contracts this year – that's more surgery, not less."

Tony Ryall drew data from the Ministry of Health Caseload Monitoring Report for the financial year to April 2006. The report is littered with warnings that due to the high volumes of elective procedures it takes a number of months to get a final picture of DHBs' month-by-month performance.

In previous months, volumes have gone up by as much as 10 per cent once all the data was included. Even a slight increase would put DHBs well ahead of where they were last year.

"I appreciate Mr Ryall's assistance in highlighting the continued improvements being made by DHBs, but unfortunately I think we're a few months away yet from getting a complete picture. In the mean time, I've outlined a major work programme to improve electives and I need to focus on getting it implemented.

"This is the second time in less than a month that Mr Ryall's clumsy handling of health stats has backfired against his own spin. Just last month National accidentally revealed that under Labour, three times as many doctors and nurses have been hired than hospital administrative staff."

Pete Hodgson has said previously that the junior doctors' strike – which led to 17,000 people having their elective surgery or outpatient appointments cancelled – would have an impact on this year's elective services volumes. The data released by Mr Ryall shows that before the strike, DHBs were set to improve on last year's elective services performance.

ENDS

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