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Minister dithers as health service slips

Health Minister David Clark’s refusal to set health targets is seeing standards slip nationwide and patients are suffering, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“The first quarter statistics for the current financial year show significant slippage since this Government has been in office in critical areas of the health system.

“All 20 DHBs became worse at managing emergency department waiting times, 18 of the 20 DHBs were worse at getting smokers to quit and efforts to provide faster cancer treatment slipped in 14 DHBs. New Zealanders are waiting longer for crucial, often life-saving care and not getting the support they need.

“In elective surgeries, we know that there were nearly 6000 fewer procedures last year, the first decrease in a decade, but Dr Clark has stopped publishing data on the number of surgeries performed so we don’t even have first-quarter figures available. It’s clear he doesn’t believe he’s accountable to New Zealanders.

“What gets measured, gets done. Targets focus the health system and ensure that health professionals get results that make a difference to patients’ lives.

“They’re an indicator of the strength of our health system, as well as an important way to ensure New Zealanders have confidence in the services being provided to them.

“It’s regrettable that, in the so-called Year of Delivery, Dr Clark delivered nothing but delays, deficits and denials for New Zealanders who need healthcare.”

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