Lessons need to be learned from any contribution that long waiting times played in the tragic death of a patient at Middlemore Hospital this week, National Party Health Spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
Counties Manukau District Health Board is urgently investigating the case of a woman who reportedly left the emergency department after being told it would be hours before she could be seen, only for her to be admitted to intensive care hours later, where she died.
Dr Reti says that ED wait times are an important snapshot of how a health system is performing and used to be reported regularly.
“One of Labour’s first moves when it came into office was to scrap National’s public health targets, which included shorter wait times in hospitals’ emergency departments. Since then, wait times have gotten worse, as has every outcome measure that National targeted, including faster cancer treatment.
“Labour think they can just throw money at the health system rather than focus on results. The stressed health system needs real doctors, not spin doctors. ED waiting time targets need to be reinstated immediately, and made readily available.
“The Government is putting $468 million into health reform funding. The public and the health workforce need to know that money is going towards what matters, not layers of bureaucracy which may obfuscate the true state of our health system.”
Other EDs are also struggling with recent data from Palmerston North Hospital’s ED showing more than a third of patients wait more than six hours to be seen and the average wait time is 8 hours and the longest 48 hours.
“New Zealand’s overworked health workforce is being let down by a Government that spends excessive amounts of public money yet achieves nothing.”
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