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Ministry Unfit To Run Cervical Programme

Ministry Unfit To Run Cervical Programme

Monday 22 Sep 2003 Heather Roy Press Releases -- Health

Although Select Committee has come part of the way toward addressing the earlier problems with the National Cervical Screening Programme, I still have serious concerns about the Health Ministry's all-encompassing involvement in the programme, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"The Health Ministry still wants to set up and run its own programme - and then evaluate its own success. It must not be permitted to do so," Mrs Roy said.

"Past experience has shown that this model has failed New Zealand women. To not address this fundamental flaw is only asking for future tragedy. The main change is that women will now be automatically enrolled in the NCSP when they have a cervical smear. If they do not wish to participate, they can `opt-off' the programme.

"The Health Ministry must not be responsible for the entire programme. We spend $35 million a year on the NCSP - experts have told the Committee that, if this programme is not run properly, this is money down the drain.

"A transparent programme is necessary for meaningful evaluation of cervical screening, and to ensure the safety of New Zealand women. A more effective option would see the programme funded by the Ministry, but contracted out to be managed by experts in the field - many of whom already work in our universities and public health arenas.

"Evaluation must be completely independent. Evaluators should not have a vested interest in the outcome of any audit. It is time to learn from past mistakes and move forward by implementing an effective and transparent programme," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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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