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Canterbury surgeons say culled patients will die

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

6 September 2006

Canterbury surgeons say culled patients will die

National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall, says Canterbury surgeons have delivered a chilling message to the Labour Government – people will die as a result of the waiting list cull.

“The Government has got to stop the cull and actually provide for more operations. Helen Clark can't go on treating sick people with such disregard.”

He is commenting following the release of an open letter from 74 of Canterbury DHB’s 80 surgeons criticising the culling of patients off waiting lists, which has prompted the DHB to apologise.

The surgeons say that ‘compliance with this directive from the Ministry of Health will deny many of our surgical patients the benefits of modern surgery and force them to continue to live with worsening disabilities and in some cases undiagnosed and untreated conditions including tumours that will lead to premature death’.

They say: ‘The plan to return patients removed from waiting lists for GP review/managed care essentially ignores the clinical diagnosis for which a surgical operation has been considered by the patient, the GP and the surgeon, as the best and in many cases the only treatment option available.’

“This is absolutely unprecedented. Virtually every surgeon has publicly condemned the Government’s data cleansing.

“These are the views of the people at the coalface who have to deal with sick patients. Yet the Government dismisses their concerns.

“The surgeons say that in some cases the decision has been made to cull their patients without their involvement or knowledge – it is administrators who are making the decisions.

“It is not the DHB that should be apologising – it is the Government. It has forced DHBs into this situation by threatening financial penalties for those that don’t cull patients from their waiting lists – all for its own cynical political purposes.

“Labour should stop treating the statistics and start treating the patients.

“National says New Zealand can get more elective surgery with a new approach: smart use of the private sector, greater trust of specialists and GPs in decision-making, cuts to bureaucracy, and moving resources into services through a greater focus on value for money.”


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