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Watchdog Gone, Labour Off The Leash

Watchdog Gone, Labour Off The Leash

Friday 4 Jul 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today expressed concerns over who would ensure that the recommendations of the Gisborne Inquiry were implemented, now that watchdog Dr Euphemia McGoogan's contract was complete, and only 10 of the 46 recommendations have been implemented.

"Health Minister Annette King assured the country that all 46 recommendations, which arose from the Gisborne Cervical screening Inquiry, would be implemented - yet only 10 have been completed, Cabinet has dismissed two completely, and 34 remain in limbo," Mrs Roy said.

"The new Health (Screening Programmes) Amendment Bill, currently at Select Committee stage, allows for the Health Ministry to set up, run and audit a national cervical screening programme - along the same lines as the current flawed system. This will, obviously, lead to the same problems. Labour shows no wish to learn from its mistakes.

"The Cancer Audit Group will take three years to investigate possible under-reporting of cervical cancer during the 1990s - a far cry from the recommended six months - at a cost of $3.5 million. This is a lot of taxpayer money for an audit that, when complete, will still answer whether there was a systemic problem of under-reporting.

"The Health Ministry has been shown to be woefully inadequate in its management of a national cervical screening programme. What is worse, it seems completely oblivious - or uncaring - of the flaws in its system, and seems uninterested in taking note of Dr McGoogan's findings.

"The Health Ministry must not be allowed to set up and run its programme, and then evaluate its own success - or lack thereof. Any programme should be managed by a body with a transparent and meaningful evaluation progress. Anything less would take away any remaining confidence that New Zealand women have in cervical screening in this country," Mrs Roy said.


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