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Patients needing surgery should get greater responses

Annette King
Health Spokesperson

29 January 2014

Patients needing surgery should get more than drip-feed responses

The Government has been embarrassed into injecting more cash into elective surgery following criticism from doctors and clinicians about increasing unmet need in the health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

Health Minister Tony Ryall announced today that the government was spending an extra $10 million on elective surgery over the next five months.

“Anything that helps New Zealanders living with pain or disability is welcome, but the 1800 operations it is estimated this will pay for is just a drop in the bucket.

“We’re talking about 30 extra hip and knee operations on average at every DHB. That doesn’t even clear Mid Central’s backlog of at least 47 patients.

“Health professionals have been increasingly vocal about the high numbers of patients not having their needs met.

“A report by TNS that found 170,000 people who meet the clinical need for surgery are not on any waiting list backs that up.

“Surprisingly Mr Ryall dismissed their research on the grounds it was done for the private sector. Yet TNS is the same research company the Ministry of Health contracted to do its smoking survey, the results of which Mr Ryall is happy to crow about.

“Rather than drip-feeding funding whenever he’s under scrutiny Mr Ryall would do better to look at establishing an independent scientific measurement of the real unmet need for operations in New Zealand.”

ENDS

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