Kiwis left in pain as DHBs refuse specialist appointments

Press Release – New Zealand Government

New Zealanders are being refused specialist assessments in greater numbers as DHBs struggle with cost pressures, Labours Health Spokesperson Annette King says.Kiwis left in pain as DHBs refuse specialist appointments

New Zealanders are being refused specialist assessments in greater numbers as DHBs struggle with cost pressures, Labour’s Health Spokesperson Annette King says.

An increase of almost 400% in the number of patients being refused first specialist orthopaedic assessments in some areas, and being sent back to their GPs sometimes in serious pain, is the sign of a health system under enormous strain, Annette King says.

“The Minister has been crowing about patients receiving more first surgical assessments but he has failed to tell them that there has been an increase in the number of people of who are not even getting a first specialist assessment and are being sent back to their GP.

“He failed to tell people that in the Bay of Plenty over the past three years, there has been a 396 per cent increase in the number of letters of decline for an orthopaedic first specialist assessment. A similar situation is happening in West Coast, with their region’s district health board sending out 200 letters of decline for orthopaedic first specialist assessments in 2013-14, up from 11 in 2011-12.

“I have received reports of people who are not even examined by a specialist but instead are sent a letter saying they don’t qualify for an appointment.

“This is postcode healthcare – where you live determining whether you get to see a specialist or not. We will see more of this unless sufficient funding goes into health for district health boards to meet cost pressures,” Annette King says.

ENDS

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