When preening goes wrong

Written By: - Date published: 11:21 am, August 21st, 2009 - 14 comments
Categories: health - Tags:

Tony Ryall had his chance in the big chair yesterday, sitting in for the Prime Minister in Question Time. A chance for self-promotion, naturally. So the first question was from Jackie Blue to Ryall on elective surgery numbers:

Dr Jackie Blue: What reports has the Minister seen of the results for the 2008-09 year just ended?

Hon TONY RYALL: I have just received the preliminary results for 2008-09. They show that the number of people getting elective surgery in 2008-09 was 130,216 patients, a record increase of 12,265 patients. This is the largest increase in the history of the public health system, and it is higher in 1 year than it was under 8 years of the previous Labour Government with its having doubled the budget.

Of course, as has been noted before, elective surgeries are only a tiny portion of the health budget and Ryall is only obsessed with them because they’re so countable, increasing them is an easy way to claim progress – even if you do it bycutting money from primary health.

But there’s something more fundamentally problematic with Ryall’s self-congratulation over this increase in elective surgeries.

It was Labour. They were the ones who set the 2008/09 budget.  Ryall didn’t do anything. He wasn’t even minister until halfway through the period. He can’t show how he increased elective numbers so dramatically. It could hardly be expected that he could have made such a dramatic and immediate change in half a year. All Ryall has done is shoot apart his own ‘Labour didn’t do nothing’ line.

Self-promotion. You’re doing it wrong.

14 comments on “When preening goes wrong”

  1. Odysseus 1

    I work in this area. In fact there has been a steady increase in elective surgery volumes since 2005 when the programme was initiated by the labour Govt. Indeed this has been one of the success stories of the previous government though you would hardly know it from the usual suspects.
    But the other thing about this is why the opposition is not nailing the Nats on this, its very disappointing. Ms Dyson implied yesterday that this may all be the way the numbers are counted ( discharges vs case weights ) and although this may be a factor in the future it is not a factor at the moment. I do think we could have a more effective Oppo Health spokesperson, somebody with a head for the details ( Pete Hodson comes to mind immediately ) . Because that’s where the devil is.

    • snoozer 1.1

      yeah, it was bloody weak response from labour. Eddie’s line was the one to go with ‘oh you’re celebrating that elective numbers went up? well whose budget funded that?’

  2. Ianmac 2

    Tony Ryall was able to claim his Elective improvements repeatedly yesterday. I heard nothing in the supplementary questions which would challenge that. It did seem a remarable increase in the eyes of the general population. Counter that?

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    I’m afraid it cuts both ways, Eddie. If Labour is responsible for the rise in elective surgeries over the last year, then Labour is also responsible for unemployment rises in the last year.

    Of course that would be contrary to your habit of blaming the National Party for everything.

    • snoozer 3.1

      man you’re desperate today Tim.

      The Labour Government funded the number of electives in the Budget in May 2008. That pretty much set how many there would be (with obvious issues around points, re-allocation etc).

      That’s not the same as the unemployment rate. The rate isn’t directly controlled by the Govt like the number of electives is, and the unemployment rate isn’t largely determined by the Budget once a year (and over the longer run by government investment), a government can intervene very quickly to create jobs if need be during the year.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.2

      “If Labour is responsible for the rise in elective surgeries over the last year, then Labour is also responsible for unemployment rises in the last year.”

      I think you need to take a rest Tim.

      That’s the worst use of that line I’ve seen, and it’s used a lot.

    • Tim

      “If Labour is responsible for the rise in elective surgeries over the last year, then Labour is also responsible for unemployment rises in the last year.”

      Why? One is dependant almost entirely on budget and the other is dependant on government policy, the price of oil, overseas markets, toxic assets, climate change, China, Japanese housewives …

  4. Odysseus 4

    I don’t have numbers in front of me – the Opposition can and should ask for them. But it is clear that elective surgery numbers have increased quite dramatically each year since 2005 both in numbers and also in the numbers of complex ( high case weight ) cases. There was particular emphasis on certain orthopaedic and ophhthalmic procedures and this too has been a success story. All that is a legacy of the previous govt.
    Having said that, elective procedures will undoubtedly continue to increase under this govt unless the current proposal to gut The Ministry ( and its electives team ) has adverse impact. Which is what Mr Ryall is nervous about – and so he should be as it is the only positive health promise that has been made.
    Still think Oppo could be a damn sight more effective on this.

    • Craig Glen Eden 4.1

      I have to agree Ryall is having a picnic in Health because Labour’s spokes person is not on top of this Portfolio.
      Unfortunately she has limited health qualifications and no real experience either. While you don’t necessarily have to have this kind of experience ie (Cunliffe is a good example of some with no quals or experience) you have to be able to listen and learn and be able to see how things could be done differently and look at the detail of the current situation.

  5. ghostwhowalks 5

    The mustard comes around NEXT year when perhaps Labour can ask the former Prime Minister for a day whether the increase has been replicated this year and by how much. ( note to RD put this in your diary)

    Or will the the new round of changes for changes sake mean the numbers suddenly become ‘unavailable’

    • Steve 5.1

      Ask the former Prime Minister?
      You really do believe in ghosts.
      Next year there will be no ghost of John Key, unlike the ghost of a former Prime Minister who controls the Labour Party from New York!
      In your dreams

      • MikeG 5.1.1

        I think that GWW meant to say the “former ACTING prime minister”. Ryall was missed off the email inviting the cabinet to drinks hosted by the ARFU in Sydney.

  6. torydog 6

    Steve:- Your are quite correct as when Johns been given the heave ho the next leader of the National party wont have to worry about its highly competent predecessor as there isnt one!

    • Steve 6.1

      torydog,
      you could try punctuation to change the meaning yourself on your comment.
      Who controls John Key? and who controls the Liarbour Oposition?

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