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Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry Childcare

Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry Childcare, Transport Arrangements

Health Minister Annette King said today women presenting submissions to the Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry, either in person or through the lawyers appointed by the Government, will be helped with transport and childcare arrangements.

Mrs King said she had listened to concerns women expressed at Health Funding Authority-convened meetings in the area this week. "I want to ensure those women affected by the misreading of cervical smears can be heard if they want to be. That is why I shifted the Inquiry from Auckland to Gisborne.

"Officials are investigating the alternatives for women with children who are appearing before the Inquiry. Clearly the fact that hearings coincide with the school holidays presents difficulties for some women. We are also investigating options for mothers of preschoolers who need to be sure their children are in good hands while they are presenting their submissions.

"Officials are working with local providers, Maori and other community groups to ensure that women presenting submissions to the Cervical Screening Inquiry are assisted with childcare, and with transport if needed."

Mrs King said she could not give final details yet, but the women affected "can be assured arrangements will be in place, and they will know about them, before the Inquiry starts. Until I became minister little or nothing was done to help the women. I am particularly disappointed to hear the reported comment of health activist Nona Gaskin, who apparently suggested, with twisted logic, that I had shifted the inquiry to Gisborne to 'keep women quiet'.

"That is far from the truth, as most people know. I shifted the inquiry after listening to the pleas from women. I believed it was essential the women affected had the opportunity to attend without major inconvenience. If it had stayed in Auckland, which was the idea when the previous Government made its shabby arrangements, most women could not have attended at all."

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