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Unacceptable waits for clinic follow-ups

Dr Jonathan Coleman National Party Associate Health Spokesman

25 July 2006

Patients face unacceptable waits for clinic follow-ups

Patients are not getting access to the outpatient follow-up they need at North Shore Hospital, says National Party Associate Health spokesman Dr Jonathan Coleman.

"We already knew that GPs couldn't get their patients into hospitals, but now it seems that even hospital doctors can't give people certainty about follow-up in the same hospital," says Dr Coleman.

"If a patient is referred internally from North Shore Hospital A&E for follow-up in an outpatient clinic, there is no guarantee of when that appointment will take place.

"Appointment letters for outpatient clinics do not offer a fixed date, but are attributed a 'clinical priority' of 1 to 4, and patients are told they will be contacted closer to their appointment time.

"The reality is that A&E doctors say that a patient needs to return for follow-up, but there is no certainty as to when that might be.

"For example, there are currently 300 people waiting for a chest clinic appointment at North Shore, with no certainty as to when they will get it. More than 90 of them are graded as priority 2, meaning they should be seen within four weeks.

"However, patients who were priority 2 in early May are only just being seen now - nearly three months later. Priority 3 patients will not be seen until all priority 2s are seen - which could mean they won't be seen at all.

"Doctors and nurses are doing the best they can, but the system is being overwhelmed.

"Patients are not being given clarity about when their appointments will take place. Many are simply missing out. They deserve better," says Dr Coleman.


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