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NRT: A waiting list by another name

Written By: - Date published: 1:32 pm, March 7th, 2016 - 39 comments
Categories: health, making shit up, national, spin - Tags: , , , ,

I/S at No Right Turn writes

A waiting list by another name

When National was in opposition, it rightly attacked the then-Labour government over the size of hospital waiting lists. People were suffering in pain, sometimes for years, because DHB’s were not meeting patient needs. When National became government, they announced they would fix this by setting targets for waiting lists. And they did so – by the simple expedient of stopping people from getting on them in the first place:

More than 5300 people missed out on the surgery they needed, within a three month period last year, because there wasn’t enough resources to do it.

It’s the first release of Government figures measuring the surgical need that was going unmet, by hospitals stretched to capacity and struggling to keep up.

And while it was well down on estimates of about 170,000 annually by some Government critics, Health Ministry officials warn the figures could get worse before they get better.

Rather than solving the problem, National has simply hidden it. And meanwhile, people are still suffering. Its a perfect example of PR as policy, with the added twist of dishonesty and secrecy as well. As for how they’ll “solve” it, I expect they’ll pull the same trick again and simply move it back another step. Waiting lists were banished by requiring specialist referrals. And the hidden waiting list will be banished by making it more difficult to get those referrals. People will still be left to suffer, but their suffering won’t be reflected in any statistics, so it officially won’t exist. And so the government will get to pretend that their systematically underfunded health system is coping for another few years. A PR win while doing nothing.

The real solution, of course, is to fund the health system so that it can give everyone the care they need. But National won’t do that because it would mean less money for them to give away to the rich as tax cuts in 2017. Another perfect example of their priorities.

39 comments on “NRT: A waiting list by another name ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    A PR win while doing nothing. cutting the taxes needed to do something.


  2. Janice 2

    ….but, but, but the asset sales are going to fund more health (and education) aren’t they?

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      For the bludgers that now own those assets and thus have us as serfs a passive income stream for doing nothing.

  3. John Shears 3

    My Wife and I have personal experience of the delays taking place.
    I had my cataracts operated on , right then left eye, over a period of about 6 months perhaps 3-4 years ago at Greenlane Clinic.

    My wife has had one eye done nearly a year ago and is still waiting for the second to be scheduled. The latest was to say it should be before June 2016 this after having to fill out another questionaire after writing to ask when it might happen.

    These are not life threatening problems but are an essential procedure once the cataract develops.

    I am in no doubt that there is a deliberate move to slow down the number of patients being treated as far as this procedure is concerned , since I had my operations.

    • ianmac 3.1

      My brother was told that as long as one eye was OK the other cateracted one would wait indefinitely.

      • b waghorn 3.1.1

        Same mother waghorn was blind in one eye for years, and was told it wouldn’t be done, fortunately for her she was able to afford private eventually.

      • mac1 3.1.2

        I was told the same by an ophthalmologist last Friday who was very critical of the NZ system. Though being a Kiwi helping out in his retirement, he practised in Australia which he said was much more advanced in its treatment options. He was very disparaging of the one cataract rule.

    • Clashman 3.2

      My father was lucky enough to be able to go private.
      $7000 per eye!
      Don’t they do it for a couple of dollars in the Islands ?

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        My father was lucky enough to be able to go private.

        That will be what National are pushing for – privatisation. It produces a profit for bludging shareholders while costing more and reducing services. In other words, they’re pushing us to the failed US model.

        • TopHat

          After waiting 2years for a hip, I had to go private or spend another 2 years crawling to the toilet. 3 years to remedy a work accident that ACC wouldn’t touch.

  4. Keith 4

    Expect lying at the speed of light after this revelation. Expect Labour to be blamed! Expect diversions, expect the flag!

    Yes National have simply moved the goal posts, yes they have not only hidden the problem, they’ve buried it. You cannot reduce government revenue with tax cuts and revenue generating assets being sold off and hope to fund public services. Senior managers are encouraged to be creative, always at arms length from their reprehensible ministers of course. Grotesque government incentives pit like govt depts against each other to meet and exceed targets, for the winner to receive bonus budget infusions. All good you may say, getting better value for taxpayer dollar but these departments are already suffering from financial starvation. And so if they cook the books for their masters, who looks good, the National Party, thats who!

    Inside information is that Doctors recommend anyone with a first world passport to say, the UK or Australia, go to those countries for cancer treatment,. Why, because our system is years behind and woefully under funded!

    The bullshit that is reduced crime reporting masks the fact that police simply do not go after crime themselves anywhere like they did pre National. They wait for people to report it and that collapses the report quantities. But they have to, their budget too has been cut and frozen for years. All police can do is try to “prevent” crime, a Don Quixotic solution if there ever was.

    This government are behind the biggest defrauding of the public in the history of NZ. I would go as far as to say there is not a stat anymore produced by an NZ government department, that may effect Nationals hold on power, that is not tampered with somehow or another. Certainly none can be relied upon!

  5. feijoa 5

    Didn’t they cut funding for the Health Budget by 1% (which is millions) just recently??
    Looking for a link but can’t seem to find it…

    People need to get stroppy about this

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      They upped the nominal value so that they could say that they were increasing health spending but they didn’t increase it enough to cover inflation and population increases.

      In other words – they lied with numbers.

    • Richard@Down South 5.2

      $138 million required by DHB’s in ‘savings’ (dont mention cuts)

  6. Sacha 6

    That modest official figure for unmet need does not include the many many thousands whose GPs never even bothered with a specialist referral because they knew it was a waste of time. Nor does it include the same for all the other forms of treatment than cutting people.

  7. Nic the NZer 7

    Not quite correct. In fact the govt could fund both the health system and tax cuts by simply running a deficit. The deficit being ‘self funded’ by the act of paying the health professionals involved. The govt prioratised instead the ideological and political goal of running a surplus. Obviously for as long as people are willing to work for govt pay the govt faces no funding constraints in putting them to work.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      Running a deficit, or collecting more revenue. For example, per-capita GDP is always higher under Labour led governments, so revenue increases. They could always raise taxes on the wealthy (the biggest beneficiaries of society) and/or introduce financial transactions and capital gains taxes.

      Except they’re incompetent, so the first option is beyond their ability, and they’re stupid, so the others are beyond their imagination.

      • Nic the NZer 7.1.1

        Raising more tax revenue creates additional real space in the economy so i hope you are immagining a spending increase to go with your fantasy taxation increase. This appears unnecessary however. The govt could presently get plenty more people to work for them simply by paying them. They dont need to increase taxes first to convince them to do so as far as i can see.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Just pointing out that your “solution” – of running a deficit – isn’t the only one – after all, even a history teacher managed to balance the books – and pay off a fantasist’s massive deficit – for nine straight years.

          • Nic the NZer

            If balancing the books is a goal of the government then they have already failed to be anything but neo-liberal in practice.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              So a government that provided fully publicly funded free education and healthcare, and scrapped the broken SOE model in favour of public utilities, and balanced the books, would be neo-liberal in your eyes.

              Good to know.

              • Nic the NZer

                Absolutely. I doubt that a govt can do all those things and balance the books frankly. Then it becomes a question of prioraties (balance the books or achieve useful outcomes). I suspect that English thinks hes doing a good job right now given the self imposed constraint of balancing the books actually.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  balance the books or achieve useful outcomes

                  A false dichotomy if ever I saw one.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    Why? Balancing the books is not a useful outcome itself in any way. Keeping the net change in private sector savings to be zero over some specified period (this is identical to balancing the govt books) is not a useful goal. Justify why it is a useful goal for us please.

                    Edit. Note its not a false dichotomy simply on the grounds that sometimes the govt will need to increase spending in order to get certain desirable economic outcomes. Your govt doesnt get to decide when that happens the course of the economy does.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      It’s a false dichotomy because the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

                      It’s a useful measure (not a goal, a measure) because when we use resources faster than they accrue, that’s unsustainable.

                    • Nic the NZer

                      So which resources (which we use) are used up by govt spending? As far as i was aware tax payments etc are just account entries at banks including the RBNZ.

      • Richard@Down South 7.1.2

        The could also enforce the tax policy… make sure tax fraud is down year on year… can you imagine if they took a similar approach to tax fraud as they do looking for benefit fraud?

      • Bob 7.1.3

        “or example, per-capita GDP is always higher under Labour led governments”
        OAB, you trot this lie out time and again, I link to proof you are wrong (below) and you ignore it, rinse and repeat:
        There is basically no difference between increases in per capita GDP between National and Labour, mainly because there is basically no difference in economic policy between National and Labour.

        But while you are discussing per capita GDP, note the near exponential growth in per capita GDP since the introduction of neo-liberal economics in 1984, do you now support neoliberalism?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          No, Bob, I’m not ignoring you: you’re just wrong.

          • Bob

            What is the source of that graph OAB? Because it is clearly bullshit when it shows GDP deflation under the Key government.
            The only way that is correct is if the graph was produced in 2009, meaning it is either 7 years old and useless, or made-up.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              No, Bob, it means that per-capita gdp since the graph was compiled, can be added to make it up to date, and based on their track record I’m confident that it will show that the National Party is a little bit shit at being in government.

        • Nic the NZer

          Umm Bob your making a ‘school boy’ error there your prices are listed in nominal (current US $) terms. Inflation is the cause of the ‘near exponential’ growth trend.

        • Draco T Bastard

          note the near exponential growth in per capita GDP since the introduction of neo-liberal economics in 1984


          1. Growth when measured by percentage per year is exponential. Even when the it’s 0.0001% it will still be exponential.
          2. Growth prior to the neo-liberal reforms was far greater. Often hitting 4% and 5% per year in the years just after WWII.

  8. tc 8

    This has been known for years.

    Yet another area the current pissweak opposition does not hammer this shonky govt over.

  9. TopHat 9

    Doctors seem to only diagnose what the system can afford to pay for, they’re as complicit as the politicians they serve.

  10. NZJester 10

    My father was on a waiting list till recently and then was informed that he had been dropped and would be required to see a specialist again to get back on the list.
    If he gets back on the list and gets his operation the statistics will only show up the time spent on the list the second time not the total wait time from when he was first accepted on the list and then dropped. That is a shady way to make out that people are not waiting long periods of time on the waiting lists.

  11. SPC 11

    The Health ministry is well experienced in cooking the books and the statistics to suit.

    With all the class of a private equity fund taking over an asset and stripping all the value out of it.

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