Newman Explains Labour’s Health Rationing System


In her latest Newman Weekly, Muriel Newman explains how Labour’s health waiting lists work-or more accurately, don’t.

To see the full article go to Muriel’s NZ Centre for Political Debate.

Emily, like 180,000 or so other New Zealanders, is on a hospital waiting list.

The problem is this “queue” of people waiting for surgery is no longer called a “waiting list”. It was changed when lengthening hospital waiting lists became politically embarrassing in the late nineties.

Growing waiting lists are a symptom of a sick health system: a “Schindler’s list” of 180,000 sick and dying people is hardly the sort of image wanted by a government trying to claim it is running a modern and effective health system!

Waiting lists have now been replaced with a “tiered” booking and management system. Patients needing non-urgent surgery are referred to a specialist by their GP. They then join the hundreds of thousands of patients waiting for a specialist assessment. Once seen by the specialist, they will receive a ‘points’ score, which will either qualify them for the hospital booking system, or they will remain under assessment by the specialist or their GP until their condition deteriorates to a stage that justifies surgery.

In other words, the single old-fashioned waiting list has now been replaced by a modern version – several separate waiting lists operating at different levels of prioritization. At the highest level are those patients who are booked in for surgery with a date for their operation. Next are those who are booked in but are still waiting for a date. Then, there are those waiting to get onto the booking list, those waiting to be assessed, and those waiting for their conditions to deteriorate. But no matter what they want to call it, there are still 180,000 people waiting for surgery.

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