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.