The Government is failing more patients than ever with at least 10,000 more people than last year on track to miss out on much-needed surgery, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Ministry of Health figures for the nine months to March show the total number of patients discharged from elective surgical specialties was nearly 6,500 procedures behind where it should be at that point in the financial year.
“When you add this to at least 1,500 cases that Health Minister David Clark said were cancelled due to the junior doctors’ strike in April, the number of unperformed elective surgeries is almost certain to be about 10,000 fewer by year’s end.
“The Government promised to do more in this area, but on current progress 10,000 people are going to be turned away from the operating table.
“This is a serious problem. These procedures include cancer, cardiac and neurosurgery operations, so they are more than minor.
“District Health Boards are currently 179 cardiac surgeries behind where they should be. It would be a tragedy if anyone was to die while waiting for an operation that should have been performed by now.
“On current projections more than 1,800 fewer gynaecology procedures and 1,500 fewer orthopaedic procedures will be performed by the year to June 30.
“Despite calling for more to be done while in Opposition, Labour didn’t even mention elective surgery in its election manifesto and removed targets at the first opportunity. This is the result.
“This is what happens when a Government talks about need but does nothing to meet it. The Health Minister has to step up to the plate and ensure this doesn’t become the first year in the past decade where fewer elective procedures are undertaken than the year before.
“This Government criticised the previous National-led Government for setting targets, saying they created perverse incentives. I cannot think of a more perverse outcome than the significant downward momentum in the health sector after they were removed.”
Table showing acute and elective surgery discharge numbers for the financial year and previous two full financial years attached. To be on track to meet last year’s figures, health boards should be at least 75% of where they were this time last year.