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Labour says thousands sent back to GPs

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/07/2016

District health boards turned away 45,000 patients seeking elective surgery in 2015.

They were sent back to their GPs without getting to see specialists they were referred to, says Labour's health spokeswoman Annette King.

There were wide variances between DHBs in the data released by Ms King on Sunday.

Capital & Coast District Board, which covers a population of 301,170, returned 4864 people to GPs with a first specialist assessment (FSA) refusal, while Counties Manukau, which serves a population of 524,505, returned just 507 people to GPs.

Hutt Valley District Health Board, which serves a population of 144,550, returned 1999 people to GPs.

Waitemata was highest with 6005 people FSA refusals in 2015, up from 4415 in 2014.

Waikato returned 2920 to GPs, up from 2436.

"The minister has to fund health properly. At the moment thousands of New Zealanders are being ignored when it comes to essential elective surgery," says Ms King.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said in a speech last month that Budget 2016 invested an extra $2.2 billion in health over four years for new initiatives and to meet cost pressures and population growth.

The government's investment in health will reach a record $16.1 billion in 2016/17 - that's an extra $568 million, the biggest single increase in seven years, he said.

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