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800 Patients to be Dumped from Hospital Waiting Lists

Mounting pressure on district heath boards (DHB) has led to the development of proposals to dump about 800 Auckland patients from hospital //waiting lists in one shot before the end of the month.

The move follows the government’s requirement that only patients who can be guaranteed treatment in six months should stay on a list.

Patients who have been assessed as not sick enough to warrant treatment within six months are referred back to their GP for monitoring.

ACT health spokeswoman Heather Roy obtained a leaked memo, from Waitemata DHB's general manager Rachel Haggerty which showed the board was planning to cut 400 people from surgery lists as well as another 400 from outpatient clinic lists before September 30.

According to Mrs Roy the health board faced an effective penalty of $3 million if there was any failure towards compliance.

That was primarily because the Health Ministry has planned to move it on to its intensive monitoring regime wherein the DHBs would receive funding at the end of each month, rather than the beginning, costing it large amounts of interest.

Mrs Roy opined that the move was not fair on the patients. She said, "These 800 patients were referred to specialists because their GPs believe they need a second opinion or further treatment – this is just another attempt to artificially improve waiting list statistics.

"DHBs shouldn't have to choose between their patients and their funding."

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, which is a union for senior doctors, last week said that the Government's waiting list policy amounted to "data cleansing".

Ms Haggerty said the DHB was working towards a better alignment of its systems so that people were turned back when they first saw a specialist, rather than put on a waiting list and then later taken off.

She said that in spite of increasing the number of first specialist assessment s by 11 per cent and elective surgery by 4 per cent the board was still struggling to meet demand.

Primary health organisations (PHOs) received the memo, to manage and monitor the patients who were being taken off lists.


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