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Ryall: Heart Surgery Depends On Where You Live

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

3 September 2008 - More and more Kiwis' access to heart surgery depends on where they live rather than how sick they are, according to information released by the National Party today.

"The cardiac surgery crisis is getting worse as New Zealand falls further and further behind other countries. And here in New Zealand, where you live determines whether you get life-saving surgery or not."

Health Ministry information obtained under the Official Information Act shows a huge variation in access to heart surgery.

"If you live in Wellington you have less than half the chance of heart surgery than if you live in Dunedin.

"If you live in Tauranga you have only a third of the chance of heart surgery compared to someone living in Timaru.

"The Government was warned about this huge unfairness in a December 2003 Health Ministry report, but did nothing.

"The Health Minister yesterday promised 'a comprehensive plan to upgrade New Zealand's cardiac services'.

"This is yet another panicked reaction in advance of what is expected to be a damning report on cardiac patients dying while on waiting lists at Wellington Hospital. This crisis is not only about Wellington.

"The data released today shows which areas the Ministry of Health thinks it got a fair share of all the heart surgery performed in the country in the past year. The fresh information doesn't show whether there was enough surgery for the DHB or country as a whole. But it comes on top of the major draft cardiac services report disclosed on Monday that says New Zealand is providing much less heart surgery than comparable countries."

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