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Health figures not what they’re cracked up to be

Health Spokesperson
12 February 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT
Health figures not what they’re cracked up to be

When a surgeon is forced to do two cataract operations in order to keep elective procedure targets up rather than operate on a young child there is something seriously wrong with the system, Labour’s Health spokesperson Maryan Street says.

“Tony Ryall is fixated on targets, yet in 2012 nearly 4000 more children with preventable diseases were admitted to hospitals than in the previous year..

“Of those 3701 children were admitted with diseases which are a direct result of poverty and inadequate housing.

“How Tony Ryall can continue to claim all is well in the Health portfolio while increasing numbers of our children are being admitted to hospital with diseases more generally associated with Third World countries is beyond me.

"I know of one ophthalmologist who was told he had to cancel an operation on a small boy with a genetic eye condition to perform two cataract operations instead, because the district health board he works for was below its monthly elective surgery targets.

“He had made a necessary clinical decision which was thwarted by the pressure on the DHB to tick the boxes and keep the numbers up for the Minister. It was demoralising, he said, but not an exceptional event.

"The government's targets for elective surgical procedures are paralysing our DHBs. Yes, the Minister can get what he pays the DHBs for, but at what cost?

"For every 100 Pakeha children admitted to hospital, there are 156 Maori children admitted and 251 Pacifica children. Social inequality is exposed for what it is in those figures.

“The tragedy is that the government's efforts are not focused properly on prevention but instead on pursuing targets.

"Tony Ryall needs to wake up to what is really going on and who is actually missing out on health care.”


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