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How low can the Health Minister sink?

Thursday 17 August 2017

How low can the Health Minister sink?

The on-going performance of Jonathan Coleman as health minister is no longer a major concern but a complete disaster for the New Zealand public health system, according to Democrats for Social Credit health spokesman David Tranter.

Perhaps his most serious - and tragic - dereliction of duty involves his continuing inaction regarding the horrific suffering of patients whose surgical mesh implants have resulted in permanent excruciating pain for 800 patients, most of them women.

As a former doctor, Coleman must know how tragic this is yet in a recent 15 minute meeting with two representatives of the 500-strong Mesh Down Under Group, all they got from him was the instruction that they write to him conveying their concerns, something they have been doing to government - including Dr. Coleman - for five years.

This comes on top of the fact that despite Parliament's health select committee recommending fourteen months ago that seven actions be taken regarding surgical mesh, still nothing has happened.

"One doesn't have to be a cynic to think this cruel neglect is part of government's long-suspected agenda to privatise health care by forcing patients such as the victims of surgical mesh to go to the private sector - as some have done who can afford it - to try to repair the immense physical and mental damage done to them in the public sector", Mr. Tranter said.

Coleman's weird approach to his portfolio is now compounded by his response to problems with the Southern DHB's urology service by describing Dunedin Hospital's urology department as "toxic" and has refused to apologise. Given the SDHB ceo Chris Fleming's public statements blaming clinicians for the problem it is clear that the deterioration in management/clinician relations which began with National's corporatisation of health management in the early 1990s continues whether it's National or Labour calling the tune.

The Dunedin orthopaedic surgeons involved have written to Dr. Coleman demanding an apology and informing him that the urologists were overworked and lacked resources. If Coleman reacts as he does over other issues such as fluoridation of public water supplies it wouldn't be surprising if he fobs the surgeons off to the associate minister Peter Dunne, Mr. Tranter said.

Coleman's comment on RNZ that Dunedin Hospital medical specialists' statement that shortage of post-operative beds is causing long waiting times for cancer checks and cardiac surgery "was not plausible" sounds more like Donald Trump than a minister of health.

How the National Party can continue to harbour Coleman as health minister fairly boggles the mind, but then any government which continues to hamstring DHBs with high interest commercial bank loans when they could arrange interest-free loans from the Reserve Bank clearly has little concern for the well-being of the New Zealand public.

ENDS

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