INDEPENDENT NEWS

Govt ignored A&E crisis warning signs

Published: Mon 4 Oct 2004 08:39 AM
Govt ignored A crisis warning signs
The Government ignored the warning signs of this winter’s crisis in hospital Accident & Emergency departments, says National’s Health spokeswoman Judith Collins.
“The Government knew in March that our A departments were struggling, but it chose to do nothing.”
Ms Collins is today releasing information from the latest Hospital Benchmark report, dated March, which shows that for the past two years the Government knew of looming problems at emergency departments.
The report says triage 2 and triage 3 at A departments around the country were failing to meet benchmark standards.
The report says 13 district health boards failed to meet the benchmark for triage 2 patients. At the Auckland DHB, less than half of triage 2 patients were treated on time, while 14 DHBs failed to meet the benchmark for triage 3 patients.
Ms Collins says many of the winter woes at A departments were blamed on unusually bad winter viruses increasing the number of patients and ill hospital staff.
“While in Opposition, Helen Clark was adamant that hospitals could be ready for winter illness, but now in Government it’s clear the Health Minister has formed a different view.
“If Labour had acted on the very specific early warning signs then, the sick and injured who needed emergency treatment may have been spared the problems we’ve seen up and down the country.
“Health Minister Annette King claims the buck stops with her, but after five years in office, I think the public could be forgiven for asking if she’s capable of delivering,” says Ms Collins.

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