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The Government’s ideology is actively discouraging DHBs from using the private sector, resulting in New Zealanders missing out on much-needed surgeries, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“The length of time New Zealanders are waiting for elective surgeries is substantially increasing, and DHBs should be partnering with private hospitals when they cannot achieve the number of procedures they are expected to.

“At the end of the day, patients don’t mind where they get their publicly funded elective surgery, but blind ideology from this Government is getting in the way of easing their suffering.

“The Government promised to do more in this area, but right now DHBs are on track to perform fewer elective procedures than the year before. It would be a tragedy if anyone was to pass away while waiting for an operation that should have been performed by now.

“Blind ideology is not only getting in the way of improving access to publicly funded elective surgery, it could also be more expensive for taxpayers. Private hospitals tell me the lack of planning means when they are asked to perform procedures, the cost to DHBs is higher than it would be if better and earlier planning was undertaken.

“This is a Government that talks about need but does nothing to meet it. Dr Clark should be seriously considering a plan to reduce the time New Zealanders are waiting for surgeries, especially as he has proposed no alternative.

“The National-led Government set targets on elective surgeries, and it’s no coincidence the figures have noticeably dropped since this Government ditched this specific target last year. The fundamental difference is that National is pragmatic in our approach to public health, but this is Government blinded by ideology.”

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