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Time to end cataract cruelty

Thursday 18 August 2005

Time to end cataract cruelty.

"Helen Clark's latest election carrot of increased cataract funding ignores the greatest problem facing those trying to get treatment - the tortuous process of getting a specialist appointment", according to Democrats for Social Credit health spokesman David Tranter. "It is time to end the cruelty of denying people urgently needed cataract operations, and promising more money without removing the bureaucratic barriers is merely political flag-waving", he said."

"Patient advocacy I have undertaken recently has revealed the absurdities inherent in DHB cataracts points systems which in effect have more to do with rationing care than deciding priority", Mr. Tranter said.

"Other personal accounts brought to me disclose instances of people with reasonable sight in one eye being told by their DHB that they will not qualify for surgery until that eye deteriorates. Health bureaucrats making such statements should try wearing an eye patch 24 hours a day to impress upon them the reality of what they are saying", Mr. Tranter said.

Democrats for Social Credit query the rationale behind the public hospital cost of $3,000 per cataract operation compared to the Fred Hollows Foundation figure of $25. While it would be unrealistic to expect the public system to equal the Hollows Foundation figure it needs explaining why it costs 120 times as much in New Zealand. "In view of this cost differential we also ask why government didn't step in to help the Australian group who attempted to establish cataract surgery in Invercargill at $600 each", Mr. Tranter said.

Democrats for Social Credit say that replacing the present bureaucratic brick wall surrounding cataract treatment with a common sense approach could provide the impetus to start removing barriers to other health treatments which are presently denied to those in need.

ENDS

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