- Date published:
12:46 pm, July 25th, 2016 - 28 comments
Categories: Annette King, health, national, same old national, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: jonathan coleman
Anyone who has had to tolerate the sight of Health Minister Jonathan Coleman standing up in Parliament and parroting the twin lines that things are much better in the Health Sector now and besides it is all Labour’s fault must be getting tired of the continuous parroting of official “statistics” to show that all is well. And as time goes by his statements appear more and more to be spin and less and less reality based.
From Radio New Zealand:
District Health Boards struggling to meet the government’s goal of a four month waiting time for treatment are being accused of hiding patients on “phantom” waiting lists.
But the government said there were no “virtual” waiting lists in the health system.
The claim comes as latest DHB figures show 45,000 patients sent to a hospital specialist were turned away in 2015 – 3000 more than the previous 12 months.
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists said the figures did not account for those on “phantom” waiting lists – patients who meet the clinical threshold but have little hope of seeing a specialist within the official timeframe.
The official numbers also ignored those who did not visit a GP, or who did but were not referred for a specialist appointment even though they needed treatment, the association said.
Its executive director Ian Powell said under the current system DHBs were penalised financially if patients waited more than four months to see a specialist after being referred by a GP and that meant some hospitals were fudging the numbers.
“Because we haven’t got the workforce capacity to actually deliver on that in our public hospitals, there’s quite a bit of – I’ll use this term loosely – rorting going on, where some patients are actually put on what they call a virtual list or a suspended list. It’s like picking up a number of patient files and just putting them on a shelf somewhere,” he said.
Mr Powell could not say how many DHBs had phantom lists – but he said often patients were none the wiser.
“The patient knows nothing. The patient may well then appear on the list for the following four months. The patient will be unaware this is happening.”
How many are on this phantom list? TNS prepared an analysis earlier this year that suggested the figure was 174,000. From Stuff:
Thousands of people are being left off surgery waiting lists across the country, and Canterbury may have the highest level of unmet need.
About 174,000 New Zealanders are in need of publicy-funded surgery, but have not been placed on a waiting list, new research from global research company TNS shows.
Patients are commonly being turned away as their pain is not considered to be severe enough, or GPs are “waiting to see” how their condition progresses.
Labour’s Annette King summarised the situation in this way:
People write to me, they say their GP said they needed to be seeing a specialist, that they had an issue, they had pain, they had disability, they go in for their assessment and they’re told ‘sorry, you don’t meet the criteria’, and the criteria is overwhelmingly a financial criteria.”
And Coleman’s response? More statistics. Again from Radio New Zealand:
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the advice he had received was that there were no such phantom lists.
Mr Coleman said the government had dramatically cut waiting lists, and more and more people were getting appointments and operations.
“The key thing is we are doing more appointments every year.”
He said there were 110,000 more appointments each year and 50,000 more operations.
Mr Coleman told Morning Report that historically there had always been a proportion of people who had not been seen for treatment.
“Official figures show that only 5 percent are not getting that appointment, 87 percent are, 8 percent are being asked for further information.
“There is absolutely no phantom waiting lists in the system.’
“It’s a figment of Ian Powell’s imagination I’m afraid.”
Something does not add up. If there are 45,000 people on a waiting list that were turned away it does not feel like 5% of total figures. That would suggest that just under a million kiwis are waiting for surgery. And if the total figure is 230,000 then this is completely irreconcilable with what Coleman is saying.