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Dunne wins Govt pledge to probe hospital deaths

Media Statement
For immediate release
Wednesday, 5 November, 2003

Dunne wins Government pledge to probe hospital deaths

United Future leader Peter Dunne today won a Government pledge to probe the recent deaths of patients on waiting lists at Wellington Hospital at a time when the private Wakefield Hospital had spare capacity.

Mr Dunne tackled Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor in Parliament today on Health Ministry monitoring of public and private hospital capacities, only to be told that monitoring of private hospital capacity and available beds isn't being done.

"This makes a mockery of the Government's recent claims that it's committed to private-public partnership in health.

"Lovely words indeed, but they mean nothing if you don't know what it is that you are committed to - and this Government clearly doesn't know that because its Health Ministry clearly hasn't asked.

"It's quite apparent that the ministry hasn't sought to find out what kind of private capacity there is that could alleviate the illness and suffering of sick New Zealanders.

"And when people die on waiting lists while private hospital beds and operating theatres lie idle, it appears, that despite all the talk, that hoary old 'public good, private bad' ideology is still there - and now it's claiming lives.

"As I've said before, a patient doesn't care where their hip replacement or heart operation is done - as long as it is done," he said.

In response to Mr Dunne, Mr O'Connor agreed to look into why private hospital capacity was not monitored and why the deaths at Wellington Hospital occurred when beds were available at Wakefield.


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