Specialists sending thousands back to GPs 'dangerous' - Labour

Labour claims increasing numbers of people in desperate need of a specialist appointment are being sent back to their GPs.

Labour deputy leader Annette King says she's had thousands of people contacting her with stories of being sent back.

"They are being referred to a specialist, they are being sent back to their GP. They bounce back to the specialist, sometimes back to the GP and they still haven't got an appointment," she says.

One terminally ill patient says funding cuts mean people like him are dying. Source: 1 NEWS

"These delays are dangerous for people's lives," Ms King says.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says data on the issue won't be available until next year.

The Government says it's complicated co-ordinating different data from different district health boards.

But cancer patient Graham Higgins wonders if a six-month delay in seeing a specialist has shortened his life.

The Northland prison officer tried for three months to see a specialist at Whangarei Hospital but was told they were too busy and couldn't fit him in.

Mr Higgins eventually received an appointment at Kaitaia Hospital, but by then was told he had cancer.

The 62-year-old says he feels if they had caught it earlier, the outcome might have been different but "as it stands it's terminal".

Mr Coleman says incidents such as those shouldn't be happening but he doesn't know the details of the particular case.

Mr Higgins thinks funding cuts simply mean hospitals can't do their job, the father of four just hoping changes are made to help others.