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Radiographer strike will affect thousands

Hon. Tony Ryall MP

National Party Health spokesman

10 September 2006

Radiographer strike: thousands of patients to be disrupted

Thousands of patients, including many cancer sufferers, face major disruption as the radiographers’ strike this week threatens to push several local health services to the verge of chaos, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

He is commenting as seven DHBs prepare for the strike that will paralyse hospitals and affect thousands of patients. Elective surgery has been cancelled and hospitals warn of major delays to emergency department services.

"This industrial action will bring hospitals to their knees in many parts of the country. Yet the Government is saying and doing nothing to prevent it," says Mr Ryall.

"This will be far worse than the junior doctors' strike because there is no one else in the public system to do the radiographers' work. Eighty per cent of patients need to see a radiographer.

"Christchurch surgeon Professor Frank Frizelle says patients with cancer would be among the most affected by the strike.”

Professor Frizelle is reported as saying that ‘Where surgery is continuing, it will be minor things. Waiting times already meant a patient seen yesterday with bowel cancer would not be operated on until October 20.’
He also said recently that the rolling strikes would make it difficult to catch up on missed operations. ‘We still haven't caught up from the junior doctors' strike.’

Dunedin's Mercy Hospital chief executive Mike Woodhouse was reported on Friday as saying extra operations are being planned at the private hospital to cater for some cancer patients whose surgeries will be affected by the strike.
Hutt Hospital has warned it will not be able to provide emergency patients with X-rays or CT scans if the strike goes ahead. But radiographers are required to provide life-preserving services.

"The Prime Minister has to realise that Health Minister Pete Hodgson's bungling is pushing the health system to the verge of chaos. Patients with cancer are again among the most affected by Mr Hodgson's poor handling of the health portfolio.

"The people getting hurt are not the wealthy, but the poor and disadvantaged. They are ordinary people who can't go private and are missing out because of the electives crisis and industrial strife. And what hurts them most is that Mr Hodgson says he is in Parliament to represent them,” says Mr Ryall.

Hospitals in seven DHBs will be affected by the strike – Hutt Valley, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Canterbury, Southland and Otago.

Ends

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