Papers describe litany of incredulity

Treasury documents which slate the Government’s plans for a national bowel screening programme confirm the proposal was nothing more than a political stunt to cover up underfunding of the health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette Kings says. 

The papers were released as part of the Government’s annual on-the-down-low dump of possibly contentious budget documents.

“They reveal that despite having seven years in which to produce a comprehensive screening programme, the business case was cobbled together in three months. There was minimal consultation with district health boards.

“Assumptions about costs and timing were found not to ‘stand up to scrutiny’, while the indicative capital bid was 'significantly exaggerated’.

“At the time he announced the roll-out, Dr Coleman said schemes were underway to address a shortage of colonoscopy staff. Apparently not – the Chair of Health Workforce NZ, one of the minister’s own officials, describes assumptions about workforce availability and capability as ‘not credible’.

“And it goes on. DHBs have not been given any additional funding for surgery and treatment for the increased number of patients they will be treating after diagnosis.

“National’s $1.7 billion of cuts to the health sector have already left it reeling. These latest revelations will only add to the stress.

“They are a damning indictment of both Jonathan Coleman – who has resorted to attacking Treasury as a smoke screen to cover up poor planning and processes – and Ministry of Health bosses,” Annette King says.