National's elective surgery numbers 'dodgy' - Labour

  • 05/09/2017
David Clark has slammed National's elective surgery announcement on Tuesday morning.
David Clark has slammed National's elective surgery announcement on Tuesday morning. Photo credit: Newshub

National is promising to significantly increase elective surgery numbers if it wins a fourth term and has set a target of 200,000 operations a year.

But Labour's health spokesperson has been quick to slam the announcement saying National is putting out "dodgy numbers" and the increase in elective surgeries is partly down to the government "re-classifying" the figures.

National's announcement was made by party leader Bill English and health spokesman Jonathan Coleman in Wellington on Tuesday.

Dr Coleman says since National came to power in 2008, elective surgery - operations carried out to fix problems that are not life-threatening - has increased by 56,000 to 174,000 a year.

The figure is expected to reach 178,000 this year.

"Over the next four years we will increase the number of elective surgeries by an average of 6500 more operations a year, meaning we will by doing 200,000 a year by 2021," he said.

"To support this National will increase spending on elective surgery by $30 million a year for the next four years, rising to $120m per year by 2021."

Labour's health spokesperson David Clark said Dr Coleman told Parliament in July that 200,000 elective surgeries were delivered in 2016.

"Now, he's claiming that he's going to increase the number of electives from 174,000 to 200,000. That just doesn't add up. Maybe Dr Coleman had Steven Joyce's help with the figures," Mr Parker said.

Earlier this year, Newshub reported that eye injections were being included in the elective surgery numbers - along with hip and knee surgeries. 

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman rejected any suggestion that the government was using injections to pump up its numbers. 

Mr Clark questioned whether the $120m per year by 2021 would be enough to fund 22,000 more elective surgeries. 

"That's $5,500 per operation, but the average major elective like a hip operation costs $17,000. Will DHBs be stung for the rest? What will have to be cut? Where is the money, Dr Coleman?"

Dr  Jonathan Coleman says spending on elective surgery will increase by $30 million a year, rising to $120m a year by 2021.
Dr Jonathan Coleman says spending on elective surgery will increase by $30 million a year, rising to $120m a year by 2021. Photo credit: Newshub

Dr Coleman says when National came to power, there were 118,000 elective surgery operations a year and they were increasing by only 1400 a year.

"As New Zealanders live longer, access to elective surgery is becoming more important than ever," he said.

"Elective surgery makes a real difference to patients - life-changing operations like hip replacements."

NZN/ Newshub

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