The health system is sick

Covid-19 has become a convenient excuse for government failures:

Health Minister Andrew Little can’t blame Covid for the shocking number of Kiwis overdue for specialist medical assessment and treatment because these wait lists had already blown out well before 2020, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

We have targets to make sure Kiwis are receiving their first specialist assessment in a timely manner, and that they receive treatment in a timely manner too. But at the moment, there are nearly 30,000 New Zealanders who are overdue for hospital treatment.

“When questioned about the huge number of Kiwis not receiving the care they need within four months, Mr Little callously blamed Covid-19.

Four months is too long time to wait in pain, with a disability or a life-threatening illness. An even longer wait makes a mockery of this government’s claims to competence and kindness.

“Andrew Little needs to stop hiding behind the pandemic as an excuse for his failure to deliver.

There is a Covid connection to the waiting lists and it’s the government’s fault.

It could be excused for shutting hospitals to all but emergency admissions at the start of the first lockdown last year.

But once it was clear that the number of Covid cases had peaked, and hospitals weren’t going to be overrun with cases, the government could have designated a few hospitals as those to treat Covid patients and allowed some public and all private hospitals to resume treatment to deal with the most serious cases on waiting lists.

However, waiting lists were too long before Covid arrived.

“In 2017 there were just over 2000 Kiwis missing the four month target for treatment. Even then that was 2000 too many.

“But by 2019 that figure had surged to more than 18,000 people missing the four-month target.

“These are more than just numbers, each of those figures represents a New Zealander who isn’t receiving the care they should within a reasonable timeframe.

“These extraordinary delays mean loved ones are being left to languish on wait lists, and lives are being lost unnecessarily, all because the Government has failed to make sure DHBs are hitting their targets. Waiting list shouldn’t be getting longer, but they are under Labour.

“Every single day since Labour have taken office, an average of 10 more Kiwis have been added to the overdue wait list to see a specialist or receive treatment.

“Labour could fix this if it wanted. Instead, it is spending $486 million on bureaucrats restructuring our health system and handing $2.75 million to the Mongrel Mob.

“Andrew Little needs to step up and make sure his DHBs are hitting their targets, otherwise we will see more Kiwis needlessly losing their loved ones.”

You can find a table outlining the number of Kiwis overdue fir their First Specialist Assessment and overdue for their Treatment in 2017, 2019, and 2021 here.

Waiting lists aren’t the only ailment from which the health sector is suffering.

The whole system is sick and the government’s prescription of two bloated and  centralised bureaucracies won’t cure it.

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