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Number of patients culled from surgery list rises

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

29 January 2007

Number of patients culled from surgery list rises

The number of patients cut from surgical waiting lists despite being told that an operation is their best option, is going through the roof, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

In the year ending October last year, 13,697 patients were referred back to their GP after either having been promised surgery within six months or having been classed as needing surgery and put on active review.

"On top of this, 24,000 patients were removed from the waiting lists because of ‘changed patient circumstances’, meaning the patient said they didn’t need an operation anymore, had gone private or died.

“The cull is on a scale far bigger than ever admitted by the government. These numbers don't include the many thousands culled from the separate waiting list for a specialist’s appointment.”

Answers to parliamentary questions show the number of people sent back to their GP has doubled since the previous year and has continued to grow since 2001:

Years ending October
2001: 3,905
2002: 3,129
2003: 5,844
2004: 4,984
2005: 6,490
2006: 13,697

“This is a case of culling people to make waiting lists look shorter for cynical political reasons,” says Mr Ryall.

“These patients, who have been cast off the waiting lists, were in the hospital booking system because a specialist said they needed an operation. Sending them back to their GP is false economy - many will get sicker and then cost even more to treat.

“It is cruel to send someone to a specialist, acknowledge they need surgery and then cull them from them the waiting list.

“The truth is, elective surgery is becoming harder and harder to get for sick New Zealanders.

“Only people who are virtually crippled, housebound and on maximum medication are getting orthopaedic surgery at Dunedin Hospital, surgeons there say. It’s the statistics being treated while patients are left to suffer.

“National would be demanding a lot more from DHBs and health board supremos. They spend all their time blaming each other and the Ministry of Health for the lack of operations and patients struggling to be seen by specialists.

“No one is accountable for taxpayers putting $4 billion extra into health and getting fewer operations. We'd make it crystal clear that health bosses actually have to start working closely with their medical staff to get more people treated. If they can't do that, then those bosses won't have a future in the health service.

“The British have shown that with smart use of the private sector, involving specialists and GPs, and making managers properly accountable then it is possible to get more people treated faster.”


Waiting List Cull – spreadsheet
Regional figures included

Discharges to GP by Moth, Year

© Scoop Media

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