Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Amazing Socialist New Zealand: Extra hospital money ALL went on bureaucracy

(See here for the iconic case of NZ medicine)

If there's one thing that everyday New Zealanders are scared of, it's the prospect of getting sick and having to depend on the public health system to take care of them - or even save their life. Why? Because it's common knowledge now that our health system is a shambles; a chaotic mess. For instance, we now know - thanks to a Treasury report that the Government tried to keep quiet - that, despite that despite Labour spending an extra $4.5 billion a year on health, there are no extra health services. Not that we need secret internal reports to tell us that. All we have to do is ask one of the tens of thousands of Kiwis who are waiting for health treatment.

So what's the money being spent on - $4.5 billion a year is a lot, after all. Well, some of it has gone on staff. But not doctors and nurses; no, the new staff has largely been made up of pen-pushers - staffing levels at the Ministry of Health's head office has increased by around 40 percent under this government, and DHB and PHO bureaucracies now cost us more than $40 million a year. A lot of money has been spent ... but what has been achieved? Absolutely nothing, according to another Treasury report when it stated that: ". increased staff numbers have not led to higher outputs."

In plain and simple language - layman's terms, if you will - that means that there has not been a single extra operation, no extra services. As ACT's Health Spokesman I've spent a lot of time looking into the failings of the public health system, and thought there was nothing more about it that could shock me - but even I was left speechless when I found out that there are now more bureaucrats in the health system than there are hospital beds. That's right: if every single bureaucrat in the health system fell seriously ill today, there wouldn't be enough beds to treat them all - let alone anyone else.

Our health system has become a joke ... but no one's laughing. How could anyone laugh when people are living in pain and misery because they aren't being treated in a timely manner? When people are languishing on waiting lists and dying on Active Review?

Here's another sick joke: Six years ago the Labour Government set up a Health Workforce Advisory Committee (HWAC), to the tune of $3.5 million, which failed to produce a single practical recommendation. Last year it received almost one million dollars. In that year it produced one press release and six publications - one of which was its annual report. What is most telling about those reports is what they DIDN'T tell us. They didn't tell us that a third of General Practitioners are looking to change jobs within five years.

Can you blame them? While the health workforce - the doctors and nurses who do the work that matters - is stretched facing the daily nightmare of struggling to care for the country's sick, there's an entire army of bureaucrats busily monitoring each other's outputs. Outputs! - How about some input? How about patients being able to see a specialist and get the treatment they need? This, of course, is the hard question. Labour answers with what the media politely refers to as 'spin'. Out in the real world, we see it for what it really is: lying.

What else could you possibly call it when the Government cuts patients from the waiting list without treating them and then tries to claim it has solved the waiting list problem? But that's what this Government has done, and what it will continue to do. Former Health Minister Annette King did it; now current Minister Pete Hodgson has done it too, telling DHBs to send people on the waiting list back to their GP. How do we know this? We got it from a document leaked from Waitemata DHB, which was threatened with a $3 million penalty if it didn't send 800 people on its waiting lists back to their GP.

So what, exactly, are people waiting for on the waiting list? A common misconception is that they're waiting for treatment when, in reality, they're waiting to be referred back to their GP. 800 patients just wiped from the waiting list without treatment, and that's just in Waitemata. The same thing is happening in every town and city throughout New Zealand - patients are being sent back to their GPs - who have already determined they need a second opinion or specialist care. It would be laughable if it weren't so tragic.

This isn't spin; this is cruelty. The Government is culling the waiting list so it can put a 'healthy' face on its incompetence and disregard for the sick and vulnerable. But these patients aren't just numbers that Labour can manipulate; they're people; they're hard-working, taxpaying Kiwis who deserve to be treated in a timely manner. The Government might not see this, but everyone else does - is it any wonder that so many doctors are moving on? For that matter, is it any wonder that so many Kiwis live in dread of getting sick? Kiwis should be asking Mr Hodgson why he's so desperate to hide the real numbers waiting for treatment; why he's bullying DHBs into making him look good by dropping desperately sick people from their waiting lists. The only thing that's truly sick in all of this is Mr Hodgson and his Government's behaviour.

A democracy is judged by the way it cares for its least fortunate. Making people wait for health care - worse, denying those people even exist - is an outrage we should all be ashamed of, even if the present Government isn't.

Bit it needn't be this way. DHBs are only too happy to send people to private hospitals, but they can't - Labour's ideological opposition to the private sector in health means that DHBs' use of private hospitals is sorely restricted. DHBs are instructed to care for patients on waiting lists 'in-house' - in public hospitals - or taken off the lists all together. Thus, Labour's philosophical opposition to the private sector means that people - including Labour voters - suffer and wait, rather than being treated in a private hospital.

The blame however doesn't rest at the Government's feet, of course. No, government says the fault is the DHBs, the doctors, the nurses - the over-worked health professionals struggling at the coalface. So there we have it: tens of thousands of Kiwis are currently waiting for health treatment while Labour pours money into the hiring of bureaucrats who make no improvement in real service. ACT knows this is wrong. That's why we would tear down the wall - and every other obstacle - that Labour has erected between public and private healthcare; that's why we would ensure that billions of your dollars are not spent with nothing to show for it.

ACT policy will ensure that people who need treatment receive it in a timely manner - and that if they can't get it from a public hospital, they'll get it at a private one. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll live in a country where we're no longer afraid of getting sick.


Dental desperation in Scotland

Desperate North-east dental patients could be bumped down the NHS waiting list if they go private. NHS Grampian has now admitted it has a policy of pushing people down the waiting list if they discover the person has signed up for private care. This follows Evening Express revelations last week that the waiting list in Grampian now stands at 25,000 (the equivalent of a 13-mile queue), meaning it could take years before an NHS dentist is available. The one big hope appears to be the proposal to build a new surgery in Tillydrone which could take 12,000 people, as reported by the Evening Express yesterday.

One North-east patient, who wants to remain anonymous, was told that by signing on for Denplan he would be shoved down the waiting list. Denplan is a form of private health insurance for teeth which gives people a guaranteed two check ups a year for a minimum monthly fee of 10 pounds. He lost his NHS dentist when he went completely private and was forced to join the long waiting list.

"As I was in need of fillings I signed up for Denplan, seeing no other option," he explained. "However, I kept my name on the waiting list as I'll be a pensioner quite soon. "When I phoned to ask how far up the list I was, I was shocked to be told that by signing up for Denplan I would drop well down."

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said the policy existed as those who could not afford private care had to take precedence. But she added: "We do have a helpline for people who need emergency treatment and can usually fit them in within 24 hours. "The waiting list is based on time waited and need. Need is seen to be greater if somebody cannot afford private dental care."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is really surprising to know the duration of time patients have to wait for an appointment with the doctor. With increased waiting list and expensive procedures, it is increasingly difficult to afford the time and money. I think that the Indian private healthcare system can be truly described as being state-of-the-art. The Indian expertise in healthcare, the entire experience of low cost surgery / treatment in internationally accredited hospitals, fast track recovery amidst a very pleasant and caring environment has put India on the global medical tourism map. Since it is also one of the most favourable tourist destinations in the world, Medication combines with tourism has come into effect, from which the concept of Medical Tourism is derived.
For instance in India's Wockhardt hospitals, medical treatment is not only fast but also costs a fraction of what it costs in USA or Europe. Even tele-consultancy is available for expert opinion and transmission facilities. Wockhardt Hospitals Group is associated with Harvard Medical International which enables the hospital to provide world class clinical expertise and excellent patient care backed by latest technology, multi-disciplinary capability and world class infrastructure and it is JCI accredited. Wockhardt one of the major players attracting international patients from US, UK and Canada. Add to this very little waiting time, excellent comforts and the best medical facilities and you get a very attractive option to perform all sorts of specialized medical treatments. Wockhardt Heart Hospital, Brain & Spine Hospital, Eye Hospital, Bone & Joint Hospital, Minimal Access Surgery Hospital, Wockhardt Hospital & Kidney Institute, Kolkatta, Wockhardt Liver Transplantation and Digestive Disease Centre, Hip Resurfacing Centre, Joint Replacement Surgery, Cosmetic Surgery Centre, Trans Nasal Brain Tumor Surgery, PELD- Minimal, Access Slipped Disk Surgery, Obesity Surgery Centre, Peripheral & Vascular Disease Centre, Parkinson's Disease Centre, Surgical Oncology (Cancer Surgery). Speciality Clinics like Diabetes Clinic, Backache & Spine Clinic, Arthritis & Joint Pain Clinic, Parkinson’s Clinic, ENT etc are a part of the Wockhardt group.

Please visit the link below to read the international patients' experiences.