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We are beginning to see what we have feared all along – the Government’s cancellation of the health targets is costing lives, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Health Minister, David Clark, claimed that the targets lead to perverse outcomes. What’s perverse is the fact that he is allowing people to die sooner because of his Government’s flawed ideological opposition to targets.

“Cancer experts are saying that people are dying without any national standard to drive treatment wait times.

“News that a patient would have had to wait eight weeks to be seen and may not be alive today had he not booked a private appointment proves why we need these targets.

“Over our time in Government, National set firm targets to ensure that every patient was getting radiotherapy or chemotherapy within four weeks. After that was met, our updated Faster Cancer Treatment target saw 82 per cent of patients go through the whole treatment pathway from referral to testing to the start of treatment within 62 days.

“The health targets represented areas of medicine that are vital to the health of New Zealanders. They covered areas such as faster cancer treatment, shorter ED wait times, access to surgery and more and research has proven that they saved lives.

“Clinicians have told me that they used the health targets to secure the resources to prioritise the provision of the services that Kiwis needed. The absence of national health targets means resources are harder to secure and the system is languishing as a result.

“People are dying and dying sooner because of the Minister’s action in removing the targets and his inaction in not replacing them.

“The Minister needs to wake up and re-establish the health targets originally put in place by Labour and improved by National or establish his own measures before more people slip through the cracks.”

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