Health workers must speak out if their colleagues are putting patient safety at risk, says health minister Tony Ryall.
Speaking at the GP CME, Mr Ryall cited speeches by health and disability commissioner Anthony Hill, saying patient safety is at risk when health workers know something is wrong, but say nothing.
“[Anthony Hill] has advised me that, in many complaint cases, someone in the healthcare team knew something that could have prevented harm but did not share that,” Mr Ryall says.
“It is timely for people to reflect on commissioner Hill’s concerns and recognise that speaking up is a professional responsibility.”
Lesson from Hamilton fluoride “nonsense”
In response to a delegate’s question about the Hamilton City Council’s decision to remove fluoride from the water supply, Mr Ryall says the Government is reassessing their public health messages to project the benefits of fluoridation.
“We’ve been putting quite a lot of work into this since the nonsense that went on in Hamilton,” Mr Ryall says.
“What the Hamilton episode has shown is that arguments we’re using to encourage communities to fluoridate aren’t working anymore.
However, he says the Government would not intervene in the decision.
“We’re not going to legislate to make it compulsory – the lesson from Hamilton is we need better, more sophisticated arguments to project the benefits.”
Little progress by previous government
During his speech, Mr Ryall criticised the previous Labour government, citing slow progress on clinical integration and treating rheumatic fever.
“Apart from lower fees and the formation of 80 PHOs, by 2008 there had been remarkably little progress in achieving the other, more quality-focused goals of the primary healthcare strategy,” Mr Ryall says.
“That’s why we’ve focused on progressing two areas of the primary health care strategy: integrated family health centres and clinical integration.”