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Reported sentinel events tip of an iceberg

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman
20 February 2008

Reported sentinel events tip of an iceberg

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says the report on serious ‘sentinel’ errors in our public hospitals is the tip of an iceberg.

“Even the Minister's advisers admit many fatal and life-threatening cases have not been included. Some DHBs can't even locate records of serious mistakes. The reporting of this information is hopeless.

"Despite being told to set up a standard nationwide reporting system in 2001 by a Ministry of Health working party, the Labour Government has done nothing of substance. They have also repeatedly ignored four more similar calls by the Health Select Committee

“Labour has spent an extra $5 billion a year on health, but our hospitals are still described as ‘unacceptably unsafe’ by the Health & Disability Commissioner.

“The public knows that our doctors and nurses are doing the best they can in a bureaucratic top-heavy culture. National believes those medical professionals should have the leadership role in improving our health system.

“Our proposals for clinical leadership will improve the quality of care for all Kiwis.”

Mr Ryall says Helen Clark came to power in 1999 saying ‘we want effective and efficient public hospitals benchmarked for best practice and performance’.
“Eight years later, the benchmarking is still a long way off, as today’s report highlights.

“If Helen Clark can’t deliver on her promises after more than eight years, she never will.”

Mr Ryall says many of the specific cases in the sentinel events report make for worrying reading.

“David Cunliffe hopes he can avoid responsibility for the failing health system by apologising to the victims of these sentinel events, including the families of the 40 people who died as a result of a preventable hospital mishap.

“But after more than eight years and the countless millions spent on bureaucrats, the rest of the New Zealand public deserve apologies, too.

“Our health system needs new leadership where the failures are confronted, rather than hidden in spin and unreliable data.”


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