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Taranaki DHB OIA – Information Heavily Redacted

Media Release

20 March 2017

Taranaki DHB OIA – Information Heavily Redacted

Following a request from The New Zealand Medical Laboratory Workers Union and a subsequent complaint to the Ombudsman for failing to meet the statutory deadline for the information requested, Taranaki DHB (TDHB) has finally supplied the union with a heavily redacted response to its request for information about its proposal to contract out medical laboratory services to a single preferred supplier, MedLab Taranaki. In its covering letter to the union the DHB has cited three criteria under the Act to justify the redaction:

• not compromising negotiations over the new service

• non-disclosure of MedLab Taranaki trade secrets

• and maintaining legal professional privilege.

“It is hard to believe that the material redacted is covered by these criteria” observed NZMLWU advocate David Munro. Attached to this release is what has been supplied as regards the proposed floor plan for the new laboratory as one example of the heavy redaction. “The DHB has sent through nine pages of completely redacted information on the floor plan,” notes Mr Munro. “We cannot understand how supplying a proposed floor plan to the union could compromise negotiations, reveal a trade secret, or breach privilege” he added.

The union intends to complain to the Ombudsman about the redaction of information. “This absurd approach by the DHB to supplying information tells us more about their unwillingness to involve stakeholders in the change process than it does about the sensitivity of the information being sought”, said Mr Munro. “This is about trust,” he continued, “the union wants this information so that we can contribute to a robust process that will lead to improved and sustainable laboratory services for the people of Taranaki.”

NZMLWU’s track record in contributing positively to medical laboratory restructuring in New Zealand speaks for itself. The union has expertise in how medical laboratories are run and is completely neutral and open-minded on commercial structures. “The union has no set ideological position on public, private or joint-venture provision,” said Mr Munro, “just as long as the taxpayer’s dollar is being looked after and the best possible service for patients and our members is achieved. This continued deliberate obstruction from the DHB simply deepens our concern that something is not right here.”


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