After months of denying that ballooning hospital waitlists were even a problem, a panicked Health Minister today announced Labour’s big solution – a ‘high-powered’ taskforce, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Despite the urgency of the situation, with thousands of patients waiting more than four months for their first appointment with a specialist and 50,000 women overdue for their mammograms, the Government’s so-called ‘plan’ is nothing more than an announcement of an announcement – with the actual plan not expected until September.
“Whenever Labour realise they’ve failed to deliver, their only move seems to be announcing another working group, and promising they are working on it.
“When National handed over to Labour in October 2017, there were 954 people waiting more than four months for a first specialist assessment. When Covid arrived in Feb 2020 this number had ballooned to 14,787.
“This increase is not due to Covid, but mismanagement by the Labour Government.
“Keeping wait lists down is a core job for a competent Health Minister and in throwing a hospital pass to a working group, he is abdicating his responsibility.
“Just as worrying is the Minister’s suggestion that people will be bumped off surgery waiting lists to try physiotherapy instead – something that is often a requirement before you even get on a surgical waiting list.
“If the Minister can’t even do his core job of delivering health services to New Zealanders on time, how can New Zealanders trust him with a multi-billion dollar restructure.
“Unfortunately, this is what happens when an incompetent, ideologically-driven Minister puts all his focus and money on a health restructure in the middle of a global pandemic.”