Not everyone gets to have surgery. Good


More than 20,000 people were declined access to surgery and other treatments at the end of last year, new figures show.

The release of [yester]day’s data follows an earlier release three months ago, which showed almost identical figures.

The figures released by the Ministry of Health are the latest from the National Patient Flow, which is designed to give a better picture of how public hospitals are dealing with those who need elective, or non-urgent, surgery.

They follow recent claims by doctors that DHBs struggling to meet the government’s four-month target are hiding patients on “phantom” waiting lists. DHBs deny the claim.

According to the latest figures, between 1 October and 31 December 2015 there were 161,881 referrals for a first specialist assessment.

Of those 141,132 (87 percent) were accepted and 7762 (5 percent) were declined as they did not meet the threshold.

Another 12,987 (8 percent) had their requests held or declined for other reasons, including the need for further investigations, insufficient information from their GP, the service was no longer required or they had transferred to another DHB.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the data helped better understand the outcome of referrals to hospital specialists.

Labour are going bananas over this, attempting to paint it as a failure and some kind of nasty way to get rid of waiting lists so people can die quietly without being an inconvenient statistic.

But what if we had a situation where every referral resulted in being accepted?  On the face of it that sounds like the ideal solution, but in reality some referrals will be inappropriate for a number of good reasons.  After all, GPs refer on so that specialists and surgeons get to have a look at the problem, and they’ll err on the side of caution.

Those numbers look good.  It means there isn’t too  much waste either way.

Competition for limited resources means that they are well utilised.   It pays to remember that under this government, more procedures are carried out than under the Labour government.  And in the end, that’s the crowning glory of Coleman (previously Ryall) and this government in Health.


– Catherine Hutton, RNZ

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