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Damning Report Shows Ministry Inadequacies

Damning Report Shows Ministry Inadequacies

Thursday 3 Jul 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

A scathing report of New Zealand's National Cervical Screening Programme has been released today and is one that the Government will be wishing had never seen the light of day, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"Dr Euphemia McGoogan is particularly critical of the Health Ministry, saying it does not have a good understanding of the principles of public health screening programmes. She also has serious concerns over the lack of appropriate training and development courses available for those involved in cervical screening," Mrs Roy said.

"Dr McGoogan visited New Zealand three times to review progress of the 46 Gisborne Inquiry recommendations, and the overall development of the National Cervical Screening Programme. Her report includes the following recommendations:

· New cases of cervical cancer must be fully audited

· A national external quality assurance scheme should be established for laboratory staff to monitor competence

· Development of IT systems for easier transfer of information

· The National Screening Unit, its clinical leadership, management structure and location within the Health Ministry should be kept under critical review.

"Of the 46 Gisborne Inquiry recommendations, 10 have been completed; seven are in progress; work has begun on seven, but there is still much to do; Cabinet has abandoned two; the National Ethics Committee is addressing six; eight are being addressed by legislative changes; and Dr McGoogan could not tell what was happening with the last six.

"Health Minister Annette King is putting on a brave face, but this report can't be ignored. The Health Ministry has failed to adequately address and implement changes needed to give New Zealand women a Cervical Screening Programme they can have confidence in.

"Ms King says the Health (Screening Programmes) Amendment Bill will address the report's concerns. But the only real change is that the new Bill provides an `opt-off', as opposed to the current `opt-on'. If none of Dr McGoogan's other concerns are addressed, there is little gain in having a cervical screening programme at all.

"The Health Ministry, found to be woefully inadequate, thinks it should set up and run its programme, then evaluate its own work. Given its history, we should seriously consider using the Ministry as an advisory body only. Those able to properly run a programme should do just that, with a transparent and meaningful evaluation and auditing process. Only then will New Zealand woman have justifiable confidence in Cervical Screening," Mrs Roy said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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