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Patients' rights come first, says Kedgley

9 March, 2004

Patients' rights come first, says Kedgley

Green MP, Sue Kedgley is calling on the Government to drop a controversial change to a health code that would allow researchers to store and study body parts or substances removed from patients, without their informed consent.

"This amendment to the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer Rights raises significant ethical concerns," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party Health spokesperson. "I am horrified that the government is seeking to sneak this through by regulation, without having wide ranging consultation with consumers and consumer groups about its implications.

"Given the recent public outrage over baby hearts being stored at Auckland's Green Lane hospital without consent, it is outrageous that the Government is proposing amending the Code to permit researchers and evaluators to use body parts without patient - or guardian - consent.

"I have a bad feeling that we are slowly whittling away the protections that were put in place as a result of the Cartwright Inquiry and moving back to the pre-Cartwright era of putting the needs of researchers ahead of that of the patient," Ms Kedgley said.

"Researchers will always argue that it is more 'efficient' to be able to use bodily parts without consent, but their desire for 'efficiency' must be balanced against patients' rights to privacy and informed consent."

Ms Kedgley said legislation on Human Tissue was due to come before Parliament shortly, and that this was the proper mechanism to debate the proposed amendments. "Frankly, the proposal has significant ethical implications and is a policy issue that should be amended by an act of Parliament, not a regulation that is sneaked through without the knowledge or consent of New Zealand consumers."

ENDS

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