5 November 2001
HFA investigation into Gisborne cervical screening completed
A further chapter of the Gisborne cervical screening investigation closed today with the completion of a report by the former Health Funding Authority, Director-General of Health Karen Poutasi said.
The report outlines the steps taken by the HFA in investigating the under-reporting of cervical screening in Gisborne, and the results of the HFA's rereading of slides from the Gisborne laboratory and the provision of support services to the women affected.
Most of the information in this report was available to the Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry, which reported its findings in April this year.
"However, the report is an important record of an issue that generated considerable public concern and interest in the health sector. The completion of the report now allows us to focus on putting in place the changes outlined in the Gisborne Inquiry Report.
Dr Poutasi said the report is a reminder of the impact of cervical cancer on the lives of many New Zealanders. "I can only repeat that I extend my sympathy, and that of staff at both the Ministry and the former HFA, to those who have been affected.
Since the inquiry, considerable effort had been made by the Ministry to put in place the recommendations from the inquiry. Monthly updates on the Ministry's actions have been released beginning in May 2001 and these are available on the internet (www.csi.org.nz).
An independently peer-reviewed report of the Ministry's actions in the six months since the release of the inquiry will be released next week in Gisborne.
Dr Poutasi says the toll from cervical cancer is a stark reminder of the need for accurate and quality assured cervical screening. The HFA report again reminds us that 18% of the 22,976 smears (from 12,099 women) were found abnormal on rereading and there have been 9 cervical cancer deaths of the 304 women involved in the rereading who have died.
"Whilst a good quality screening programme cannot prevent all cervical cancer, its vitally important that we do better", Dr Poutasi said.
It is for these reasons that the Ministry is fully committed to learning the lessons of the Inquiry.
For more information contact:
Kallon Basham, ph: 04-496-2385; 025-897-521 Peter Abernethy, ph: 04-496-2008; 025-477-036