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Heart patients hardest hit by lab changes

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

29 November 2007

Heart patients hardest hit by lab changes

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall is releasing papers from two Wellington District Health Boards showing heart patients are the hardest hit by changes to the way DHBs are now handling lab tests.

“According to the papers, the patients who are left most out of pocket are those needing cardiac surgery. We also understand breast cancer patients are facing expensive lab testing bills under this policy.

“The Wellington and Hutt Valley DHBs are now forcing patients to pay for any tests ordered for them by a private specialist. The Government has said this policy will soon be rolled out by all DHBs across the country.

"This policy will push more and more patients onto public hospital waiting lists. It will make going private even more expensive for some people who will not be able to afford that option anymore.

"National is convinced it will put more pressure on public hospitals.”

Wellington cardiologist Stewart Mann has been quoted as saying ‘it’s had a huge impact day-to-day and caused much awkwardness’ … ‘there’s also a real risk some tests won’t be done at all because people are reluctant to pay’.

Mr Ryall says the costs per patient are three times higher than what the DHBs promised.

“Health Minister David Cunliffe needs to say whether patients can expect more disruption from Labour as it attempts to correct this policy which is running off the rails. The DHBs promised no one would pay more than $500.

“Mr Cunliffe needs to make clear whether he supports what some are now describing as‘opportunistic financial expediency’ by DHBs.”

Mr Ryall says despite Labour spending an extra $5 billion a year on health, many patients are seeing services downgraded rather than improved.

“This comes at the same time we’ve got people languishing on trolleys in hospital corridors, day-long waits in emergency departments, and new mums being offered bribes to go home within hours of giving birth.

“This is no public healthcare miracle.”


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