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Health Minister Dismisses Board

12 July 2000 Media Statement

Health Minister Dismisses Board

Health Minister Annette King today dismissed the Tairawhiti Healthcare Ltd board following Gisborne Hospital's announcement that 465 patients may have received incorrect test results of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) tests.

"I am taking this drastic action because this is yet another in a series of health issues that have have come to light in the Gisborne area in the past few months. I am not saying all board members are to blame for problems that have arisen at the hospital, but they are all jointly responsible as board members."

Mrs King said she was taking action out of concern for Gisborne people, particularly for the patients affected by the latest problem.

"Since I took office there have been so many problems, all with their origin in the past, that have either escalated or just come to light. I am referring to the Gisborne cervical screening issue, the problems with pathology and coroner's inquests, the syringe issue, and now this latest problem. What must Gisborne people imagine is going on in their hospital?

"This latest revelation must really have knocked their confidence. I am determined to rebuild their confidence in the hospital, and in all the very good people who provide services in it."

Mrs King said she would be appointing current Northland Health chairman Wayne Brown as a one-person board or chairperson to act in place of a full board for the next two to three months.

"As well, the Health and Disability Commissioner has agreed to widen his existing inquiry into quality matters surrounding the syringe issue, to other quality assurance issues at Gisborne, specifically the PSA tests results revealed today."

Mrs King said there had been several other developments today concerning the hospital. These included:
 The Ministry of Health has appointed Dr Stu Gowland, head of urology at Canterbury Health, to provide assurances that action taken so far by Tairawhiti Healthcare with respect to the PSA tests are the right and proper actions.
 The ministry has begun checking all other laboratories using the same equipment to ensure the same errors are not being made elsewhere.
 The Health Funding Authority has written to IANZ (formerly Telarc) asking for an explanation of how quality issues were assessed during the accreditation of the laboratory at Gisborne Hospital.

Mrs King, who was not informed by Tairawhiti Healthcare before the latest problem became public, said she understood smaller rural hospitals faced more difficulties than larger hospitals in attracting staff.

"But that makes it even more important that quality management practices are in place. I am determined that will be the outcome in Gisborne."

ENDS

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