Waitlists up and workforce down under National

Health New Zealand’s recent quarterly performance report shows the public health system is going backwards under the National government.

In the first full quarter under the new Government: 

  • The number of people waiting for a procedure increased by 4000, a jump greater than any of the previous recorded quarters. 
  • After a substantial reduction in people waiting more than one year for a procedure under Labour, this number is now increasing. 
  • The number of patients waiting for a first specialist appointment has gone up by nearly 10,000 in a single quarter. 
  • The number of people being treated in less than 31 days for cancer has fallen to 3.1% below the target, and the report notes staffing vacancies are part of the cause. 

“It’s disturbing to see substantial increases in waiting lists. The number of people waiting for surgeries for over four months is on the rise after progress was made to bring waiting lists down under the Labour Government,” Labour health spokesperson Ayesha Verrall said.

“What’s inexcusable is the number of people on a waiting list for more than 365 days. As Minister, I made it my priority to see this list reduce, and the list dropped by a thousand people in a quarter. Shane Reti gave officials a pass on meeting this target and now the number of people with unacceptably long waits is increasing.

“The worst performing districts, which are in the South Island, did not report, so the picture is probably much worse there. 

“Since this data was collected, recruitment to frontline roles has been restricted and the health budget has been set below the level required to keep up with the cost of inflation and population growth. 

“The report notes the National Government’s desire to achieve a surplus from Health NZ, and the pressure of staffing costs. The health system won’t achieve more work without funding for the workers to do it. This Government has the wrong priorities,” Ayesha Verrall said.

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