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Time To Wake Up And Call Lab Inquiry

"Helen Clark and Annette King must launch an immediate inquiry into why New Zealand's top hospital laboratory lost accreditation," National's Associate Health spokesperson Dr Paul Hutchison said today.

Auckland's LabPlus recently had its accreditation suspended in the fields of virology, chemical pathology and immunology following an international-grade inspection. Only three weeks earlier the Prime Minister officially opened the laboratory's new facilities.

"The Prime Minister and the Minister of Health were aware of the problems early on in the piece but chose to do nothing. This is an extremely serious matter that could cost lives. The only other recent example of a hospital laboratory losing accreditation was in Gisborne.

"It is understood that the problems at LabPlus in Auckland are long-standing ones, involving difficulties with laboratory documentation. Clinicians have apparently been put in the difficult position of losing control of processes. There appears to be a serious problem with the management culture."

Dr Hutchison is calling for the Government to implement an inquiry by the Ministry. An external inquiry should also be considered.

"Why did this major hospital laboratory lose its accreditation? Is patient safety being compromised? What effect does this have on Auckland Healthcare's ability to train future pathologists? These are the kind of questions that urgently need to be answered. Management and management processes must also be investigated."

Dr Hutchison is formally seeking reports and correspondence between Auckland Healthcare laboratory and International Accreditation New Zealand.

"I believe that serious deficiencies will be revealed. It is cause for public concern that the Health Minister remains completely uninterested," Dr Hutchison said.


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