The need for transparency

Michael Morrah at Newshub writes:

The Health Ministry must be more transparent with the information it’s giving to the public. 

I agree. We still have no data available on how many tests submitted by GPs get rejected and not tested at labs, as just one example.

There also appears to be a massive disconnect with what the public is being told, and what is actually happening on the ground. 

The call for our country’s most vulnerable to get flu jabs is a good example. 

On March 18, the Health Minister announced a major flu vaccination campaign to ensure hospital beds are available for a possible influx of COVID-19 patients.

The Ministry said it had vast stocks of the vaccine – 1.8 million doses to be exact. They would be available to those 65 and over immediately. 

Over the coming days, it became apparent that this campaign simply wasn’t working. Why? Because GP clinics did not have enough of the vaccines, and their access to the vaccine had been restricted to just 60 doses per order.  

So they all ran out within a day or two.

The same goes for swabs. Despite constant assurances that we have thousands, I am speaking to doctors on a daily basis who say they’re struggling to get enough (5 at a time), or have been told by labs their practice cannot get any as there is not enough. 

Dr Bloomfiled stated on Tuesday we had 50,000 nasal swabs in the country. That’s great, but they are not getting to those who need them. Why not? 

How can you expect our frontline health heroes to do their jobs effectively if they don’t have the swabs or PPE to do it. And if we do have tens of thousands of nasal swabs, why am I reading two emails from two different Auckland health groups, who represent hundreds of doctors, which tell their members that they need to move to using throat swabs because of supply issues with the nasal variety. 

I’ve had a lot of frontline health professionals contact me also and almost without fail their stories are all about shortages – flu vaccines, PPE gear and swabs etc.

I think Prime Minister Jacinda Adern has done a solid job of steadying the ship through these uncharted times. But we need transparent, timely information. Not PR spin. This is important not only for journalists, but for all New Zealanders. 

Pretending there are no problems makes it harder to fix them.

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