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The number of people getting elective surgery in Nelson Marlborough dropped 13% to 4,720 per year, the lowest in more than a decade, says Nelson MP Nick Smith.

“These are shocking numbers and an indictment of the Government’s health policies. Labour promised increased health services but have delivered fewer elective surgery operations than in more than a decade.”

“The 4,720 elective surgeries done in the past year to June 2019 is the lowest number in more than a decade. It is 677 less than 5,397 the previous year and 1,050 less than the 5,770 in National’s last full year in office.”

“These numbers explain why I have been getting so many complaints from constituents not able to access surgery. Our population is growing and aging, and we need increases rather than decreases in elective surgery. Nelsonians are waiting longer in pain and unable to get access to the health care they need. I am seeing people in pain over delays in surgery for hips, knees, cataracts and many other procedures.”

“I do not blame our District Health Board as the reduction in elective surgery is a New Zealand problem with 6,000 fewer elective surgeries nationwide in the last year.  This contrasts with National’s record between 2008 and 2017 of increasing the number of elective surgeries by 53,000 per year from 117,000 to 170,000 per year.”

“This decline is the product of Labour’s decisions to remove specific health targets within months for things like elective surgery and vaccinations. We manage what we measure. DHB’s need clear performance targets to improve healthcare.”

“This reduction in surgery is also a product of the record number of strikes in the health sector over the past year. Labour made promises of very large pay increases in Opposition but dialled them back in Government, resulting in extensive industrial disruption and many surgeries cancelled. We need to better manage pay disputes in the health sector so as to avoid patients being disadvantaged like this.”

“National will be releasing a discussion document on health this week. We want New Zealanders getting access to more not less health care. A key priority will be reversing this decline in elective surgery. I want specific targets for more elective surgery in Nelson and the resources for our Nelson Hospital to deliver them.”

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