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Gisborne Cervical Cancer Inquiry Head Named

MEDIA RELEASE

Rt Hon Wyatt Creech

Minister of Health

22 September 1999

The Health Minister said today he would appoint Auckland Queen's Counsel Ailsa Duffy to head the Ministerial inquiry into the Gisborne cervical smear test case.

Ms Duffy set up as a sole barrister in 1996, after 8 years with the Crown Law Office. In 1990 she was appointed counsel assisting the Ministerial inquiry into a patient death at Carrington Hospital and in 1991 she was counsel assisting the Ministerial inquiry into hepatitis C infected blood products.

The appointment will be formalised shortly.

"The inquiry has to have the right mix of legal, clinical and consumer representation. We hope to secure an overseas pathologist and a consumer representative very shortly.

"Once the inquiry team is formally appointed it will establish the details of how and when the inquiry will operate. It's expected the inquiry itself will take at least 3 months."

Mr Creech reiterated that the decision to hold an Inquiry had been taken based on the clinical evidence.

"We have only just received the results which show the extent of the under-reporting by Dr Bottrill. This clinical evidence was not available before, and is so serious that I have no hesitation in launching a Ministerial Inquiry to look into how this happened.

"I also want to reiterate the need for women - both in Gisborne and across the country - to have confidence in the cervical screening programme.

"It has been very successful . If we didn?t have an organised screening programme it was predicted that up to 150 women could die from cervical cancer and up to 500 women could develop cervical cancer each year before the year 2000.

"The predicted increases have not happened and currently there are about 85 deaths from cervical cancer and around 230 cases annually. This reduction can be attributed in large measure to the screening programme."

ENDS

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