Tasks aplenty for new Health Minister

One of the first jobs for the new Minister of Health must be to provide an honest and transparent report into surgery waiting times and exactly how many Kiwis are not having their health needs met, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“National has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that the number of patients in need of surgery who are not meeting thresholds is continuing to grow.

News today that Grey Power has received more than 300 complaints in the last seven months from people frustrated at not meeting surgery criteria to get onto waiting lists or see a specialist is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Health professionals around the country have been increasingly vocal about the issue. In May Christchurch surgeon Dr Philip Bagshaw, described the current system around unmet need as ‘deliberately misleading’ and a ‘national disgrace’.

“That must change, not just for those Grey Power members, but for every other New Zealander whose access to surgery is being denied.

“The new Minister must step up and do what the previous one wouldn’t, and that is to establish an independent model to measure unmet need.

“It is only then that we will have a true picture of the extent of the problem,” Annette King said.