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Health Ministry echoes Tony Ryall in avoiding serious health

Health Ministry echoes Tony Ryall in avoiding serious health issues

It is outrageous that the increasing concerns about disastrous outcomes from the use of surgical mesh are obviously not regarded as sufficiently serious by the Health Ministry or the Health Minister for them to become involved, according to Democrats for Social Credit health spokesman David Tranter.

Parliamentary questions put recently to the Minister about surgical mesh have received the same evasive response as I have had several times from Mr. Ryall when he typically answers that it is "not appropriate" for him to be involved in the day-to-day running of DHBs, Mr. Tranter said.

In particular, in reply to the question, "What procedures, if any, are in place in DHBs for women having Thermablate treatment procedure to ensure hot water does not escape from the silicone balloon used for this procedure?", Mr. Ryall answered: "I am advised that the Ministry of Health does not hold this information......... All DHBs are expected to provide services that are safe and to a reasonable standard of care. Only in maintaining that required standard are they able to ensure the improvement, promotion and protection of the health of their populations as outlined in the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000".

Given that one of the New Zealand groups campaigning on this issue says they are aware of over 400 cases of disastrous outcomes involving the use of surgical mesh, are the public to take it that Mr. Ryall includes these on-going tragedies in his definition of the "day-to-day" running of DHBs? Since he cannot possibly be unaware of this issue his answer is possibly the most blatant of the many cop-out responses he has given on serious health issues, Mr. Tranter said. Following his disgraceful comment that the Ministry of Health has no "information" on this issue with comments about DHBs ensuring, "the improvement, promotion and protection" of their populations, is downright disgusting and a complete evasion of what should be the responsibilities of both the Ministry and the Minister.

Several surgical mesh cases in which I have been involved make it very clear that DHBs go to extraordinary lengths to conceal information by withholding patients' files when they are requested by using so-called DHB "corporate" solicitors to turn the process of releasing files into such tortuous affairs that only the most determined of patients and their families persist beyond the first brick wall erected to frustrate their efforts. Yet, as one example Nigel Millar, the Chief Medical Officer of the Canterbury DHB, is on record saying, "The patient owns the record, to annotate, to correct, to control" (NZ Doctor news). Again from the same source Nigel Millar states, "The patient owns their health record, we have to get over ourselves". Yet Nigel Millar's own DHB uses corporate solicitors to frustrate the patients’ rights as he spells them out.

The key issue here is that when a DHB fails to provide a safe service and conceals information which may be relevant in prevention of further problems, who else if not the health minister has a duty to act? If Mr. Ryall continues to dodge this - and other - issues he will go down in history as the health minister who completely evaded his responsibilities and then deserted the public health service to seek his fortune in the private sector, Mr. Tranter said.


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