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Consumer mag: You need to be sicker to get surgery

Hon Tony Ryall
National party Health Spokesman

11 December 2006

Consumer magazine: You need to be sicker to get surgery

A Consumer Magazine expose has revealed the Labour Government is making it harder and harder for New Zealanders to have elective surgery.

National's Health spokesman Tony Ryall says the report confirms what New Zealanders now know.

"Despite spending $4 billion extra, fewer people are getting important surgery that will make their lives better.

“The bar to get surgery is getting higher and higher. Surgery that was once common in hospitals is now no longer being performed. Patients are missing out, and suffering as a result.”

The Consumer investigation reveals:

- The public health system is increasingly treating only the more serious and acute conditions.

- Some minor elective services are not available in some public hospitals, or there’s a real chance of having surgery cancelled because there are too many acute cases or insufficient staff.

- For people who can afford it, queue jumping by seeing a specialist privately is common.

- There are inconsistencies in the assessment criteria used by different District Health Boards (DHBs) – and people with the same conditions and symptoms will be treated in some DHBs and not others.

- DHBs and the Ministry of Health do not collect adequate data to measure unmet demand.

“Doctors have the skills and the knowledge to make life enjoyable again for so many more people, but Labour simply can’t organise the health system to make this happen,” says Mr Ryall.

"Labour's abysmal handling of hospital strikes means even fewer people will get important surgery as theatre lists were cancelled all around the country.

“National believes elective surgery could be boosted by the smart use of the private sector, greater involvement of specialists and GPs in decision-making and cuts to bureaucracy.”

ENDS

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