GPs forced to do specialist work as budget cuts bite

Patients are being refused specialist treatment as cuts to health spending force more work onto GPs, Labour's Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“The Minister of Health admitted last month that health funding has not kept up with inflation and an independent Infometrics report found $1.7 billion has been cut in real terms by the National Government. This means New Zealanders are not getting access to the services they need and doctors are telling us their patients are being sent back from specialist appointments.

“Figures released to Labour show that 90,000 people have been sent back to their GP without a specialist assessment over the past five years from half of the district health boards in the country.

“At the Waikato District Health Board alone, nearly 3000 patients were sent back to GPs after being refused a specialist appointment in the 2014/2015 year – up from 793 four years earlier.

“Orthopaedics and ear nose and throat specialists are particularly badly affected; Waitemata ENT refusals doubled over the past three years.

“These are the numbers this Government hides while it crows over meeting arbitrary targets. Almost 80,000 Kiwis have been refused a first specialist assessment over the past five years. That’s not good enough and is a direct result of National’s funding cuts.

“Jonathan Coleman previously said these statistics didn’t exist but he miraculously managed to find figures for 2006 this morning.

“It’s time the Minister came clean about what’s really happening in hospitals and GP offices around the country. Kiwis are missing out on the care they need as this Government saves money on our most vital services,” Annette King says.