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Is Cervical Programme Effective?

Is Cervical Programme Effective?

Thursday 3 Jul 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today asked whether New Zealand women were being lulled into a false sense of security when they have a cervical smear, in light of Dr Euphemia McGoogan's extremely critical report on New Zealand's cervical screening programme.

"The report was most critical of the time it has taken the Cancer Audit Group to audit the possible under-reporting of cervical cancer in the late 1990s. The Gisborne inquiry recommended that the audit be conducted within six months - yet answers to my written Parliamentary Questions show the audit will not be complete until late 2004," Mrs Roy said.

"This is three years longer than the six months recommended. Although six months is a tight timeframe, experts have said that it should have been possible.

"Health Minister Annette King has also confirmed that the audit will cost $3.5 million - this is a lot of taxpayer money for an audit that will not be able to answer whether there was a systemic problem of under-reporting in the late 1990's.

"At the conclusion of the Gisborne Inquiry, Ms King said she was committed to ensuring all 46 recommendations would be implemented. More than two years later, only 10 of those recommendations are completed, and Cabinet has made a conscious decision not to implement at least two.

"That leaves 34 in limbo - some of which the Government anticipates will be dealt with in the new Health (Screening Programmes) Amendment Bill. However, Dr McGoogan is also critical of the Health Ministry, we must ask if it is the right body to be undertaking a new programme when it has been found so wanting in the past.

"The report - released by the Minister in the dead of night, in the middle of Urgency, when the Government is not able to be questioned by the Opposition - shows the embarrassment it feels at Dr McGoogan's damning findings. We must look to the future, and learn from previous mistakes, to ensure that the $35 million spent on cervical screening is not taxpayers' money down the drain," Mrs Roy said.


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