Health targets 'hopeless' if they can be rorted - Annette King

Waikato DHB sits middle of the table on most of the Government's targets (Getty)
Waikato DHB sits middle of the table on most of the Government's targets (Getty)

Labour has told the Government to stop using "Trumpisms" and tell the truth about what's going on in the health sector.

On Thursday, a group of orthopaedic surgeons in Waikato accused the local district health board (DHB) of stopping them doing follow-up checks, so they could fit more new patients in and meet Government targets.

Appearing on Paul Henry on Friday morning, Labour deputy leader Annette King and Cabinet Minister Judith Collins sparred over the effectiveness of DHB surgery targets.

"It's no good having targets if they can be rorted," said Ms King. "If you can rort targets, then they are hopeless."

"Well you didn't have them, so that's the biggest rort," replied Ms Collins. "You needed to give people knee and hip operations, and you didn't do it. Now we are."

Ms Collins said the DHBs were doing "brilliantly", while Ms King said she shouldn't use "Trumpisms".

"Let's have some truth."

Health targets 'hopeless' if they can be rorted - Annette King

Judith Collins and Annette King on Paul Henry

Leaked emails reveal the DHB told surgeons they must meet expected number of initial patient assessments to secure funding.

"They were being told that a decision was being made behind their backs [that] certain follow-up clinics would not be held, because it got in the way of trying to achieve a Government target," Ian Powell from the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists told Newshub.

"The operations account for the target, the follow-ups [don't]," said Dr Powell.

Waikato DHB denied the claims, saying it had asked surgeons to "pause booking follow-up appointments for a few days while we made sure that the highest-priority follow-up appointments were being booked" and the emails were taken out of context.

"We clarified at the time it was not at all the intention that we stop doing follow-up appointments - it was simply that they make sure the highest-priority ones were being seen," said executive director Brett Paradine.

Waikato DHB sits middle of the table on most of the Government's targets, except when it comes to shorter stays in emergency departments, where it ranks 19th out of 20.

It ranks seventh in terms of improved access to elective surgery.  Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said Waikato DHB has improved in recent years, with 32 percent more patients having a first assessment with an orthopaedic surgeon in 2015/16 than six years earlier.

Newshub.

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