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Cunliffe exposed as heart op waiting list trebles

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman
5 February 2008

Cunliffe exposed as heart op waiting list trebles

The waiting list for heart patients at Wellington Hospital has more than trebled since Labour came to office, says National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall.

Mr Ryall has released correspondence from the Capital & Coast District Health Board showing the board management were concerned about ‘the growing waiting list and the associated clinical risk’.

Internal documents also show the number of patients waiting longer than the recommended six-month government guideline for surgery rocketed from one to 126 in the two years to July.

Mr Ryall is questioning why it is taking so long for Health Minister David Cunliffe to come clean on the seriousness of the crisis facing Capital & Coast District Health Board.

“Mr Cunliffe has not revealed the information about the blow-out in the heart patient waiting list, yet he has clearly known about it for some months. Why did he not reveal and deal with this crisis earlier?”

Mr Ryall says Capital & Coast has never been far from the headlines for the past six months or more while Labour has had its own watchdogs in place monitoring activity.

“It was the crisis in child cancer that prompted Mr Cunliffe’s embarrassing ‘I’m running the show’ pledge. Ever since then he has failed to deliver on this claim.

‘Despite billions of extra dollars in the health system, more Wellington heart patients are waiting, they are waiting longer, and for some that wait may prove to be fatal."

The crisis is further evidence of the Government's "lack of workforce planning", with staff shortages blamed for numerous cancelled operations every week.
"What's needed is a new partnership with the health professions that unshackles our clinicians and gives them greater trust to run their hospital services to provide more care."

Mr Ryall says the crisis unfolding in heart patient waiting lists is indicative of a wider breakdown in the value that taxpayers are getting for their money within the health service.

“While the waiting list has grown, the number of operations at Wellington Hospital has stayed static, at about nine a week, for the past two years.

“When bureaucrats are being hired more frequently than doctors, there is something very wrong.”

“This has come under Helen Clark who said that Labour would ‘blitz’ waiting lists, establish maximum waiting times, and cut a ‘swathe’ through the bureaucracy.

“New Zealanders deserve better.”

ENDS

Attached: Letter from CCDHB to Consultant Cardiologists [PDF] – 2 pages.

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