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King Welcomes Two Reports On Gisborne

King Welcomes Two Reports On Gisborne Ministerial Inquiry Recommendations

Health Minister Annette King has welcomed the release of a report by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) assessing progress implementing the Gisborne Ministerial Inquiry recommendations. The report was tabled in Parliament today.

Ms King said she was also releasing today the first six-monthly written report by independent consultant cytopathologist Dr Euphemia McGoogan, from Lothian University Hospitals NHS in Edinburgh. Dr McGoogan will provide a second written report to Ms King in April.

“Dr McGoogan’s written report, which arrived shortly before Christmas, reiterates the main comments she made at a public meeting in Gisborne in November. Since then the Ministry of Health has started working through her findings, and intends doing the same with the Auditor-General’s Report,” Ms King said.

“While there is still much to do, both reports cite a number of positive areas in implementing the recommendations, including the strong focus on quality standards and monitoring. They also both recognise the complexities of managing and delivering a high-quality screening programme. The Auditor-General’s Report indicates good progress has been made in putting in place the systems and procedures to implement the recommendations.

“Dr McGoogan's report provides a very useful list of issues that she says need to be addressed. This is what I wanted her to do. The ministry will be working with Dr McGoogan to ensure that there is a common understanding in particular on how recommendations are measured.”

Ms King said she was determined “to ensure we put in place a world-class cervical screening programme. Ongoing monitoring that shows what we need to do is part of this Government’s commitment to providing a world-class programme. Dr McGoogan will be back in the country in April as part of this monitoring process, and I’ll keep asking her back until the process is completed.”

Ms King said she was “particularly heartened” by one comment in the Auditor-General’s report. It read: ‘..in the course of our review we saw evidence of much determination, particularly among the ministry staff responsible for the programme, that this sad history will not be repeated again, and that the recommended changes to the Programme will be made’.

“I was also heartened that Dr McGoogan acknowledged the ‘commitment, enthusiasm and dedication of the staff of the National Screening Unit (NSU). The Unit has put a tremendous effort into improving the quality of the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) at all levels’.”

Ms King said there could certainly be no room for complacency, however. “Both reports highlight concerns and provide examples of potential improvements in terms of implementing the recommendations.

“For instance, Dr McGoogan raises concerns about the pressures on the National Screening Unit and calls for the appointment of additional expert clinicians to support the work of the Unit. The search has now begun for these experts internationally.

“Dr McGoogan commends the excellent work that has been done on the Audit of Invasive Cervical Cancer, but also expresses the concern she raised in November that the Audit proper has not begun. Since November a number of developments have taken place as part of this key project. This month the Director-General of Health announced the appointments of several clinical and public health experts to the Audit. I am advised by the ministry that the most effective Audit will be completed as speedily as possible.”

Ms King said that as well as Dr McGoogan continuing her review, the Office of the Auditor-General also intended to review the recommendations again in the future.

Ends

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