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Heart announcement precedes damning report

Tony Ryall MP National Party Health Spokesman

7 October 2008

Heart announcement precedes damning report

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says Labour's last-minute pledge to improve cardiac surgery was cynically timed for release just hours before a damning report on the deaths of patients on Wellington's waiting list.

"Heart patients will welcome some long overdue attention after nine years of Labour. The Government was warned about the falling rates of cardiac surgery in a 2003 Ministry report.

"The timing of today's announcement is cynical and designed to take some of the heat out of this afternoon's report on waiting-list fatalities.

"New Zealand will need a smart use of public and private facilities across the country to improve cardiac surgery rates. Right now, patients' lives are at risk from these failing cardiac services.

"The expansion of cardiac surgery will be important, but difficult with the shortage of cardiac ICU nurses, particularly in Auckland.

"And there's a general shortage of nursing and theatre staff elsewhere."

National has been releasing policies to deal with the health workforce crisis, including a voluntary bonding scheme for doctors, nurses, and midwives in hard-to-staff areas.

"After nine years and 55 reports on the health workforce crisis, Labour is still missing in action on that issue."

ENDS

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