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Ministry not taking cervical screening seriously

Dr Lynda Scott National Health Spokesperson

3 July 2003

Ministry not taking cervical screening programme seriously

National says the Ministry of Health is not taking the National Cervical Screening Programme seriously enough, with only a handful of recommendations implemented three years after the programme started.

"It is hopeless that only 10 of the 46 recommendations have been implemented three years down the track," says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott, commenting on today's McGoogin report on progress of the programme implementation.

"Women need to have confidence that the mistakes of Gisborne are being corrected. This report gives them no comfort.

"The report says we still don't have an effective screening programme. It says women can drop off the register without follow up, and they can't be traced because there is no population register based on the incidence of cervical cancer.

"This programme will not be effective unless the Ministry of Health improves its management. I'm most concerned at the finding that the culture has changed in the programme since its Clincal Director Dr Julia Peters left and the Cervical Screening Programme Advisory Group disbanded.

"We also need to make the patients realise that the protection of patient privacy is preventing New Zealand from having a credible national screening programme. Our programme doesn't meet World Health Organisation requirements because it allows women to opt off and therefore have no follow up on a national level, meaning we can't have full proof monitoring.

"Progress with the programme is far too slow. After so much resource and time going into attempts to get this right, it is astonishing that the Ministry has let the standard slip.

"The Ministry needs to take these recommendations on board, instead of being defensive about them. New Zealand women are not getting a fair go because the Ministry of Health is simply not doing its job," says Dr Scott


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