PETERS: Too many thrown out of hospital without treatment

Radio Live NZ
17 January 2015

For many Kiwis a hip operation brings unbelievable relief and an immediate improvement in their lifestyle. Free of pain and no longer limping, they are able to enjoy life to the full.

But, hip operations and other forms of surgery that bring major changes in people’s lives are not always easy to get.

We all know the reality of being put on a waiting list. But what we didn’t know till New Zealand First started asking questions is that in too many cases people going to hospital for an operation are tossed out untreated.

Despite the government telling us they are targeting these operations – called elective surgery – many who should receive operations are missing out.

The figures we received from the Minister of Health show that the ratio of untreated elective surgeries has got worse since 2000.

For example, in the Auckland area nearly 8000 people left the hospital waiting list untreated in 2014. In the Bay of Plenty area, a New Zealander is now nearly twice as likely to be turned away from surgery as under the previous government.

One can only imagine how much these cancellations cost because apparently there are no figures on this.

What is going on? The government must come clean on this instead of just trumpeting a campaign around elective surgery. So many people are being let down, after initially having gone through the GP visits and all the rigmarole to get on the waiting list.

Let’s face it, there is still a huge demand for elective surgery, so as well as people going untreated who were on the waiting list, we have thousands who never make it to the list. But the number of people needing, but missing out on operations are not even collected by the Ministry of Health.

Winston Peters is the leader of New Zealand First