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Surgery, Elective—Waiting Lists

Wednesday 18 February 2009 Hansard source (external site)

Blue5. Dr JACKIE BLUE (National) Link to this
to the Minister of Health

What advice has he received in relation to elective surgery and waiting lists?

RyallHon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health) Link to this

I have received a number of reports, and in total they are an indictment on Labour’s failure and manipulation of hospital waiting lists. In order to reduce waiting lists, the number of people receiving elective surgery needs to grow faster than population growth. From when district health boards were set up in 2000-01, to 2007-08, the number of patients receiving elective surgery each year on average did not even meet population growth, let alone population ageing. It is undeniable that if waiting lists had not been reorganised to hide the numbers, and thousands of patients had not been culled, waiting lists would be much greater today.

BlueDr Jackie Blue Link to this

What other advice has the Minister received in relation to elective waiting lists?

RyallHon TONY RYALL Link to this

I have received advice that in relation to the two waiting list systems some district health boards may not have been disclosing the full numbers. In particular, I am advised that many district health boards hold people in their individual patient management systems and do not submit this information through to the national booking system. They are therefore not officially counted.

DysonHon Ruth Dyson Link to this

Can the Minister confirm that like the figures he quoted for district health board deficits, when he forgot to recognise that there are two sorts of deficits—cyclical and structural—the figures he has just reported confuse individuals on elective surgery with case rate numbers, discharges, and cost weights; if not, which figures was he quoting?

RyallHon TONY RYALL Link to this

What is quite clear is that that member fails to realise that elective surgery simply failed to keep up with population growth during the term of the Labour Government, and if we look at the elective discharges we will see the evidence there. The member should be embarrassed, because under her Government the health budget doubled and fewer people were getting elective surgery on a real basis.

DysonHon Ruth Dyson Link to this

What impact on access to primary health care—generally the route to elective surgery—will occur as a result of the Minister’s planned removal of the cap on general practitioner fee increases?

RyallHon TONY RYALL Link to this

The Government has no plans to do so.

BlueDr Jackie Blue Link to this

How can it be that the health vote has basically doubled from $6 billion to $12 billion, yet fewer people in real terms get elective surgery?

RyallHon TONY RYALL Link to this

That is an astonishing $6 billion question. The facts are that under the Labour Government the health vote nearly doubled, fewer people in real terms were getting elective surgery, thousands were culled from hospital waiting lists, and the new lists did not count all the people. Although the new Government has inherited many worrying failures from the previous Labour Government in the public health system, including the track to financial crisis I outlined yesterday, elective surgery and manipulation are at the forefront of Labour’s failures.

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