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New Member Appointed to Gisborne Team

MEDIA RELEASE, March 07, 2000

Press Release
New Member Appointed to Gisborne Team


Health Minister Annette King said today she would be recommending the appointment of a Canadian pathologist, Professor Maire Duggan, to the Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry team.

Mrs King said she would take her recommendation to the Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee tomorrow.

Mrs King also announced the team was likely to begin its hearings in the first week of April.

The hearings were delayed last month, firstly when the venue was transferred from Auckland to Gisborne, and then when Australian pathologist Professor Gordon Wright withdrew from the inquiry team because of the changed dates.

"By next week everything will be finalised in preparation for the inquiry. I perfectly understand the frustration of affected women at the delays. If the previous Government had thought more carefully in the first place, particularly in terms of venue, then there would have been no difficulty.

"It was important for the women to transfer the venue to Gisborne, and the time involved finding a replacement for Professor Wright has been unavoidable. The difficulty has been finding someone with the necessary qualifications and independence, and who could be available for several weeks. We are extremely fortunate to have secured Professor Duggan."

Mrs King said she expected the inquiry team to make recommendations to her on any issues that arose during the hearings, including other areas that might need investigation.



Terms of reference seven and eight allowed the team scope to comment on any issue they believed to be of particular relevance. "The team should make recommendations on any other actions that should be taken, including the possibility that a further inquiry might be needed into other issues."


Mrs King said Professor Duggan possessed the international standing and independence to make her a suitable replacement on the three-person team.

Professor Duggan heads the Cytopathology Division, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Calgary, is chief of the Cytopathology Division, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Calgary Regional Health Authority, and a former chair of the Canadian Society of Cytology.

Professor Duggan is also co-chairperson of the Cervical Screening Working Group of the Alberta Clinical Practice Guidelines Programme, and a member of Health Canada's Cervical Cancer Prevention Network.

Mrs King also announced today another lawyer, Prue Kapua, would join Stuart Grieve and Bruce Corkill as one of the lawyers funded by the Crown to represented women affected by the inquiry. Ms Kapua would concentrate on concerns specific to Maori women and their whanau

Mrs King said a web site was being set up so all those who wanted to follow the proceeedings could do so, even if it was not possible for them to go to Gisborne. "All transcripts of evidence given at the hearings will be posted on the web site, except for any evidence that is suppressed."

Summary of developments in Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry:

 Starting date: First week in April.
 Venue: Gisborne.
 Members of inquiry team: Ailsa Duffy QC (Chair), Druis Barrett, Professor Maire Duggan (recommended).
 Extra lawyer funded: Prue Kapua.
 Web site to be established.
 Inquiry team to recommend any further action that may be needed, including the need for a further inquiry.

ENDS

TERMS OF REFERENCE:

To conduct an Inquiry into the reading of abnormalities in cervical smears in the Gisborne region prior to March 1996, taking into account the results of the reviews of cervical cytology and histology samples carried out by the Health Funding Authority, on the following terms:

1. To determine whether there has been an unacceptable level of under-reporting in consequence of mis-reading and/or mis-reporting of abnormalities in cervical smears in the Gisborne region.

2. If you determine that there has been an unacceptable level of under-reporting, to identify the factors that are likely to have led to that
under-reporting.

3. If you determine that there has been an unacceptable level of under-reporting, to satisfy yourselves whether or not this was an isolated case rather than evidence of a systemic issue for the National Cervical Screening Programme.

4. To identify changes already made to legislation, to laboratory or other processes or to professional practices to address the risks of under-reporting
of abnormalities in cervical smears.

5. To identify other changes agreed to be implemented, either by the
Government or by professional organisations, that will further address any
risks of under-reporting of abnormalities in cervical smears.

6. To consider all relevant proposals that could ameliorate any risks of
under-reporting of abnormalities in cervical smears and identify whether these
are covered by 4. or 5. above and whether further changes are needed.

7. To comment on any other issue the Inquiry Team believes to be of particular relevance.

8. To make recommendations, consistent with section 4 (a) of the Health and
Disability Services Act 1993, as to any future action the Government or its
agencies should consider taking.

ENDS

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