Election 2014

7 Oct 2008

Labour pledges $50 million for heart operations

1:53 pm on 7 October 2008

The Labour-led Government says it will spend $50 million over the next four years to increase the number of heart operations being carried out.

A report released on Tuesday by a working group on national cardiac surgery services said New Zealand was lagging far behind other countries, such as Australia.

It called for a 35% increase in heart operations and many other changes to improve waiting times.

Labour health spokesperson David Cunliffe says the Government has accepted all the recommendations.

It has agreed to put in place a nationwide system for prioritising patients, in response to the finding that rates of surgery differ markedly around the country.

Mr Cunliffe says the $50 million Labour is pledging over four years would be a reallocation of funding within the health budget, and would result in at least 25% more heart operations.

National's health spokesperson, Tony Ryall, says the extra funding is needed, but warns that because of staffing shortages the money will not provide a quick fix to the low rate of cardiac surgery.

He says the Government was warned as far back as 2003 that the level of cardiac intervention in New Zealand was falling behind international standards.