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Millions of Health Dollars Wasted

MEDIA RELEASE, May 2, 2000

Millions of Health Dollars Wasted

Health Minister Annette King said today that millions of dollars that could have been spent on health would be lost because of the need for Health Waikato to discontinue implementing the SMS information technology system.

"I support the decision that has been made, but I have asked three board members of Health Waikato to resign. They were all involved in the original decision to buy the SMS system."

"The Government cannot tolerate millions of dollars of taxpayers money being wasted like this," Mrs King said. "Someone has to be held accountable."

Mrs King said prime responsibility for the loss of such money lay with the previous Government. "Ministers in that Government were warned repeatedly, by a former board member and by staff members, that the SMS system was not suitable for Health Waikato's requirements. But they chose a hands-off approach that has cost the taxpayers dearly. This is another example of an ill-begotten National chook coming home to roost."

Mrs King said the second level of responsibility lay with board members who made the decision to buy the SMS system. Former chairman Jack Jenkins had resigned from the board in December last year, but she had now asked three other board members involved in the decision to resign. The three, David Wickham, Margaret Evans and Shane Solomon, were advised of her decision today, she said.

In March this year Mrs King appointed MidCentral Health Ltd chairperson Ian Wilson as interim chairperson of Health Waikato, and also appointed a former Health Waikato chief executive, Dr Tony Cull, to the board. Further appointments to the board would be made in the near future.

"The Waikato fiasco has been an expensive lesson. There was no sense of IT direction given by the former Government. Instead, 22 different HHSs went their own way. I won't tolerate that, and taxpayers won't any longer either.

"That's why spending on IT systems is now on hold. That's why we are developing a national IT strategy. We want money spent on patients, not disappearing into the ether."

ENDS

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