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Jibber jabber can’t hide the facts

Annette KING
Health Spokesperson
13 August  2013MEDIA STATEMENT

Jibber jabber can’t hide the facts  

A flurry of statements from Health Minister Tony Ryall suggesting DHBs are collecting dud statistics is hardly reassuring for the country’s emergency department or for patients, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“Mr Ryall has fired out several more of his good news stories following revelations that many DHBs are not meeting triage waiting times, using his six-hour waiting time target as ‘proof’ that patients aren’t having to wait longer than necessary.

“What he conveniently forgets to say is that the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine has just released updated ED policy and procedures, which points out triage scales are still being used to measure the urgency of patients’ conditions as they arrive at hospital.

“Responses to my OIA requests also show the Ministry of Health is working with the Health Quality and Safety Commission to produce a quality and safety framework for managing patients in an ED setting. The College’s guidelines will form part of that work.

“New Zealand DHBs are still required to collect triage times, yet Mr Ryall continues to argue they offer limited benefits. If that’s the case then he should just change the reporting requirements and stop wasting clinicians’ valuable time.

“Given Mr Ryall and his offsider Jo Goodhew believe regurgitating previous Opposition comments can cover up this Government’s failings, it seems pertinent to respond in kind.

“This was My Ryall in 2007 - when he was National’s health spokesperson: ‘They [the Government] can argue all they like over the data errors, but the public knows that these hospitals are not working well and people are languishing in emergency departments. No amount of bureaucratic jibber jabber can hide that fact. Triage 2 and 3 are still quite serious situations and they are not being dealt with anywhere near best practice benchmarks.’

“A 2009 report into improving ED quality that Ms Goodhew quotes recommends retaining triage times and warns that putting a target in place – as Mr Ryall has done – could encourage gaming and the shifting of overcrowding problems into other parts of the system. 

“The pressure to meet Mr Ryall’s six-hour target and his league table reporting are putting our hospitals under enormous stress.

“It’s time he faced up to the fact everything’s not hunky-dory in the country’s emergency departments and started working on some real solutions.”


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