The 10 patients waiting for urology surgery at Dunedin Hospital are just the tip of the iceberg, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.
"Hundreds of patients are waiting for follow-up appointments, but they are not deemed serious enough to be on the urgent list. Yet they are waiting so long, there is a risk of deterioration in their health.
"On top of this, hundreds more patients across Otago are waiting for first specialist assessment. It is entirely possible some of those waiting for first specialist assessment will have developed terminal conditions in the meantime.
"The wait for surgery may be killing people. The issue goes back to funding. National has stripped $2.3 billion out of the health system since 2009, and hospitals around the country are now rationing care.
"A draft review of urology services is now being circulated in the hospital. But this review has been too long coming. It was discussed late last year, and should have been completed months ago.
"While we were waiting for a report on urology services, an opportunity to hire another surgeon has been passed up. The situation has now worsened, and staffing remains 30 per cent below the level recommended by the College of Surgeons.
"Staffing levels have been below recommended levels for years. Nelson for example has twice as many surgeons per head of population. You cannot tell me that there is only half as much cancer to be treated in Otago.
"The current Government has had nine years to improve our health system, yet for most New Zealanders it has become harder to access the system.
"Labour believes in access to affordable quality healthcare. We can do so much better than this," David Clark says.