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Poor treatment of patients has to stop

Poor treatment of patients has to stop

How we treat our sick and disabled people is fast becoming an election issue, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says, following yet another report of an elderly woman being turned down for surgery.

“The number of New Zealanders living with pain and disability waiting for surgery, particularly older New Zealanders, is fast increasing.

“District health boards around the country are sending out letters to thousands of desperate patients telling them that while their GP and specialist has recommended they have surgery - and they would benefit from it - they do not meet the threshold for an operation.

“Information I have gathered from DHBs reveals many of them can only offer surgery to the most urgent cases. They have insufficient resources to provide for all those who are living in crippling pain.

“I am sickened by the stream of stories of people forced to live in agony, unable to walk without assistance, losing their independence, and living on powerful pain killers while Health Minister Tony Ryall crows about the number of operations being performed.

“Any fool knows there must be more surgery done as our population ages and people live longer. Both Treasury and the Retirement Commissioner have sounded warnings. It's not good enough for Mr Ryall to hark back six years ago and keep blaming the previous government.

“It is time Mr Ryall acknowledged it is his Government that is responsible for our older people being seen as less important than bailing out multi-national companies or paying for consultants and spin doctors to sell assets we already own. And it’s time he confessed that the threshold for an operation is set predominately by money.

Over the past few months an increasing number of specialists and a small number of courageous DHB CEOs have been calling for a proper look at the level of need for elective surgery. A good starting point would be for the Minister to tell New Zealanders how many sick and disabled people living in constant pain are being dumped under the euphemism of 'not meeting the threshold '.

Mr Ryall is desperate to bury this health issue but I’m putting him on notice - this will be an election issue. Kiwis deserve better and that's what they will get from a Labour-led government.”


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