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Public ward segregation goes too far

Dr Lynda Scott

National Health Spokeswoman
12 February 2004

Public ward segregation goes too far

It is unacceptable that an elderly woman with heart problems was asked to give up her bed in a public ward at Tauranga Hospital because she was not Maori, says National's Health spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

Nurses at the Hospital attempted to move Elva Cooper, 69, after a request from other patients who wanted to be in an all-Maori room. Ms Cooper was left upset and disturbed by two attempts to move her in what she believed was an unacceptable form of racism.

"Ironically, Mrs Cooper is of Maori ancestry but because she does not look Maori she was asked to leave," says Dr Scott.

"It was not until she proved her lineage that hospital staff let her stay.

"The hospital's general manager admitted that it was usual in public wards to group Maori together if they requested it."

Dr Scott says that if it was the other way around, and a Maori had been asked to move because a non-Maori wanted their bed, it would rightly be seen as discrimination of the worst kind.

"The Minister of Health, Annette King, must act to ensure segregation of this sort in our public hospital system is stopped," says Dr Scott.


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