Treatment priorities focus of survey

The Ensign, 15 October 2010

By Sandy Eggleston

HOW to decide which patients should be given priority treatment in a public health system that has limited funding is a question that should be discussed by New Zealanders, University of Otago student Trudy Sullivan says.

Ms Sullivan is completing a research project for her doctorate to find out what New Zealanders think about which groups of patients should have priority in receiving publicly funded treatment. She would like as many people as possible to take part in an online survey to share their opinion.

Ms Sullivan said because many people complained there was not enough funding for the public health system, there should be clear guidelines as to which patients should have priority.

‘‘People complain ‘why am I on a waiting list?’ or ‘why am I not on it?’ and ‘how do I know if I can get this treatment?’.’’

‘‘There needs to be some clear, transparent way to prioritize treatments,’’ she said.

The survey asked people to choose between different criteria that could be used to determine which patient should receive treatment first.

The criteria are age, lifestyle choices a person has made, how much the treatment will help the patient, how much the community would benefit from the person being treated, whether there is an alternative treatment and the patient’s health.

Ms Sullivan said the survey would help her discover what criteria New Zealanders thought were important in making health treatment decisions.

The survey took about 10 minutes to complete and people interested in taking part could email her to receive a computer link to a survey form, Ms Sullivan said.

• To receive a computer link to take part in the survey, email trudy.sullivan@otago.ac.nz