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Transtasman SOS Need Not Have Been

Transtasman SOS Need Not Have Been

Sunday 26 Sep 2004

Heather Roy - Press Releases - Health

Desperate times call for desperate measures, but difficulties with the rising number of heart patients on Auckland Hospital's waiting lists are the result of bad planning and the unacceptable Government ideology that private hospitals must only be used as a last result, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Like all New Zealanders, Aucklanders deserve greater certainty about the delivery of heart procedures. If Health Minister Annette King were doing her job, she would instruct DHBs to consider all available options to clear heart waiting lists - and give these patients the best quality treatment, in the best possible time, at the best price," Mrs Roy said.

"Instead, she encourages them to do surgery `in house' and only look for other options when the situation becomes desperate.

"The Transtasman `SOS' would be completely unnecessary, had Auckland private hospitals been considered a viable option sooner. While it is pleasing to see Auckland's private Ascot Mercy hospital being used to help clear waiting lists, it could probably have treated many more of these heart patients had proper planning been in place.

"To cater for Auckland effectively, private hospitals need some certainty. They cannot be expected to take on work at a moment's notice. Certainty of contracts is required, to ensure that private hospitals are properly prepared to handle the public hospital's overflow.

"Similar problems have been seen elsewhere, with 50 Wellington patients recently having their heart procedures postponed due to nursing shortages. Again, the private Wakefield Hospital could have assisted - had it received adequate warning and certainty of contract.

"Further, trying to cut waiting lists by re-classifying sick patient is unethical. These patients have been assessed by specialists, and told they need treatment. Delaying their heart procedures is playing with their lives.

"When patients are ill, ideology becomes unimportant. Hardened socialists have been known to set aside their strong public sector principles when staring death in the face. But this is a lesson that Labour is yet to learn.

"Dispelling the politically correct dogma that opposes private health providers has long been a part of ACT health policy - the cornerstone of which is the co-operation of public and private health systems to ensure quality healthcare for all New Zealanders," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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