Untenable cancer decisions at Christchurch Hospital

Reports that cancer management at Christchurch Hospital is so stretched that surgeons are being forced to decide who has the worst cancer is heart-breaking and untenable, National Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Just last week, HealthNZ was hit with scandal when data on their website was found to be inaccurate. Faster cancer reporting targets, along with emergency department wait times, were all removed to be double checked.


“However, the accuracy of that data continues to be called into question with surgeons from Christchurch Hospital claiming that the number of planned care surgeries HealthNZ is publicly reporting is wrong. This is falsely painting a picture that the hospital is coping – when it clearly isn’t.


“Christchurch has had major problems for months, with cancelled GP referrals for surgery last year and a deficit of vital anaesthetic technicians who are necessary for surgery procedures. All of this is adding pressure to the already ballooning health wait lists, which are some of the worst on record.


“This is what happens when a Government puts all its attention, money and resources onto a bureaucratic health restructure in the middle of a pandemic, instead of investing in front line services and attracting a health workforce overseas. At every turn this Labour Government has failed in health.


“Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall must urgently confirm if the cancer monitoring metrics for Christchurch are correct, how many people are on the urgent cancer wait list and for how long, and how she will address the critical health workforce issues at Christchurch Hospital.


“A National government will improve cancer treatment. We will increase the breast cancer screening age for New Zealand women, saving up to 65 lives a year.


“A National government will redirect health restructure waste into building the health workforce and will hold itself accountable to publicly reported targets. We would also report cancer treatment as a health system target, which Labour stopped reporting during part of last year.”