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Leave Health Commissioner Appointment to new Govt

Jim Anderton MP Thu Aug 19 1999

Jim Anderton
MPHealth Minister Wyatt Creech should leave the appointment of the next Health & Disability Commissioner to the new government, says Alliance Leader Jim Anderton.

'I believe that the appointment of an appropriate person to the position of Heath & Disability Commissioner is crucial and should be one for the next government - of whatever political persuasion. This close to an election, this appointment must be deferred.'

Mr Anderton says he has been critical of the performance of the Commissioner's office since it was set up, with some justification.

'The lengthy delays by the Commissioner's office in dealing with patient complaints are simply unacceptable. When patients feel they have been mistreated, they need to be heard and they need to be heard with some urgency.

'Unfortunately, Robyn Stent has taken my criticism of her office personally. There is nothing personal in questioning unacceptable delay. It is about making sure patient rights are being respected and that an office set up to defend patient rights works the way it is supposed to be working.'

Jim Anderton is proposing that Mr Creech ask Robyn Stent to continue in her position beyond December until a new appointment is made as soon after the election as possible.

'Phillida Bunkle was one of the central figures in having the office of the Commissioner established. The establishment of a Commissioner's Office to defend patient rights was a key recommendation of the Cartwright report into the Unfortunate Experiment at National Womens Hospital. Phillida put enormous effort into getting the office set up. If there is a new government, she will be able to have a significant say in who is appointed to that position.

'The Alliance would also want to ensure that new guidelines and targets for the Office of the Health & Disability Commissioner are drawn up and adhered to.

'The resources available to do the job properly must also be provided.

'The appointment of the next Health & Disability Commissioner is the key to the success of that office. It is crucial that the appointment be one for the new government, ' Mr Anderton said.

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