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Cancer fears for culled patients

Hon. Tony Ryall MP

National Party Health spokesman

30 July 2006

Cancer fears for patients culled from waiting list

The hospital waiting list cull is accelerating as DHBs hurry to meet the Labour Government's instruction to dump any patient waiting longer than six months, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"More than 11,000 patients were waiting longer than six months for a specialist appointment at the end of May - over 2,200 in Auckland, and over 1,200 at each of Waitemata, Canterbury and Capital Coast.

"These patients must be referred back to their GPs to meet Mr Hodgson's edict that no one should be on a waiting list for longer than six months.

"They are being sent back to the very people who said they should see a specialist in the first place.

"What the Government is doing does not make sense in any way. Many of these people will get progressively worse and their treatment will end up costing a lot more money. This is a false economy.

"About 900 people face the chop at Palmerston North's Mid Central DHB, and GPs are warning that cancers will be missed and go untreated as a result of the waiting list cull.

"One local GP, Ralph Saxe, has listed some of his patients who have been culled, including many with family histories of cancer who will not now get tested:

· A man in his 50s with blood in his urine referred for diagnosis. · Patients over 40 with a strong family history of bowel cancer for whom screening is recommended by the Health Ministry.
· A patient who has been to the emergency department four times with abdominal pain.
· A cancer patient referred by a surgeon for specialist follow-up returned to GP care without further tests.
· Women with severe period pain who cannot get tests to confirm or rule out endometriosis as the cause.

"Helen Clark promised the country more beds. But all she's given is more desks! The bureaucracy is out of control.

"National says its time to stop the waiting list cull. Lives are at risk as specialists and GPs have all told the Government. Yet Mr Hodgson arrogantly refuses to listen."

ENDS


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