Too many Kiwis waiting on waiting lists

Waiting lists to get on waiting lists are the new norm for thousands of New Zealanders living with chronic health problems, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“The Government’s underfunding of the health sector is forcing district health boards to create all manner of loopholes to keep people off waiting lists for first specialist assessments and surgery.

“Hawke’s Bay uses a 14-step process to assess the needs of orthopaedic patients there, with four ‘pathways’ to manage people back to their GPs.

“In Taranaki some 884 patients with hip or knee problems were refused a first specialist assessment last year, up 142 per cent on 2012.

“Thresholds for surgery also differ drastically, meaning different waiting times for patients with equal needs depending on where they live.

“These are real people being left in limbo, not numbers on a spreadsheet. They have real issues that need resolving.

“Keeping them in a holding pattern ensures they count for nothing. If current Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is going to do any better than his predecessor then he should look into what’s going on with our DHBs and their ‘waiting’ waiting lists.

“I am calling on the Minister to ask the Auditor-General to do exactly that,” Annette King says.