The debate at hand: Should ethnicity be a factor for surgery waitlists?
If your first thought was, "What??" or "That's racist!" then, congrats, you are probably a sane individual.
But for the wokies, deciding who gets surgeries based first on skin color is called equality and equity.
This week, New Zealanders are debating whether ethnicity should be a determining factor when patients get surgery.
Clinicians have used an algorithm to modify the placement of patients on elective surgery waitlists. The algorithm considers factors such as the duration of patients' waitlist status, their residential location, financial situation, and ethnicity.
According to AP:
Indigenous Māori and Pacific Island patients are given a higher priority on the list, pushing down white New Zealanders and other ethnicities. The idea is to balance out longstanding inequities in the publicly funded health system.
As the austere scholar and racist-Marxist Ibram X. Kendi put it, "The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination."
This algorithm has been used in Auckland - the country's largest city at 1.4 million people - since 2020. Still, most people weren't aware of it until this past Monday when a New Zealand radio station, Newstalk ZB, reported on it, stating that some surgeons were ethically opposed to using ethnicity as a factor.
Although white New Zealanders are being pushed to the bottom of surgery waitlists, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says it's the indigenous citizens who are being discriminated against.
At the moment, there is clear evidence Māori, Pacific, rural and low-income communities have been discriminated against by the health system.
This prickly healthcare issue was a hot topic during last year's election, and the conservative opposition parties were firmly against it. On Monday, Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon spoke to reporters:
It's pretty simple. Race shouldn't play any part in determining surgical need.
The Libertarian ACT Party is also against it. They started a petition in opposition to what it describes as "race-based waitlists."
Since Monday, the algorithm has had a spotlight on it, and after major (and perfectly reasonable) backlash, PM Hipkins is busy with damage control. Hipkins quickly put a hold on plans to expand the algorithm more broadly across New Zealand's healthcare system and has asked the Health Minister Ayesha Verrall to look closer at the tool to ensure "we're not replacing one form of discrimination with another."
Verrall says she is disappointed in the outrage over the algorithm.
I think it is important that we address the inequalities that we have in life expectancy and health services for Māori. I think it's disappointing the tone that it's taken.
Well... many others are disappointed in the algorithm in the first place!
Imagine being on a waitlist for a desperately needed surgery, but you were plagued with white skin... then you find out you have been pushed lower down on the waitlist because of the misfortune of your skin color.
About 10% of New Zealand's 5 million people are among those currently covered by the algorithm. Patients affected include those attending two large hospitals: Auckland City Hospital and Greenlane Clinical Centre.
Jo Gibbs, who directs hospital system delivery at Health New Zealand, said those who are sickest or most in need of care are treated first. Beyond that, she said, the algorithm was helping reduce barriers and inequities in the health system.
"We will evaluate the tool to check it is achieving its purpose," she wrote in a statement to The Associated Press. "It has not been rolled out nationally."
It hasn't been rolled out nationally... yet, but just you wait.
It's already been quietly used for years in the country's largest city! So many lives have already been affected by the algorithm.
I actually didn't think we could get so lost so as to racialize surgery waitlists. But here we are.