15 Oct 2013

Call for more openness in health sector

9:45 am on 15 October 2013

A visiting British lawyer says greater openness and transparency is needed to boost public confidence in the New Zealand health sector.

Robert Francis led an inquiry into poor care at Stafford Hospital in England between 2005 and 2009, when up to 1200 patients may have died because of serious lapses in care.

He told a workshop in Wellington for health-sector leaders that it could happen anywhere, and hospitals must listen to complaints from families and whistleblowers.

Mr Francis, whose visit has been funded by Waitemata District Health Board and the Health Quality and Safety Commission, also said the public has a right to more information about the safety of different medical procedures.

The Health and Disability Commissioner, Anthony Hill, says all health professionals must speak out when things do not seem right to them.

Hawke's Bay DHB chief executive Kevin Snee told the workshop too much business is being done behind closed doors and he agrees with Mr Francis's call for greater openness. "We're very unwilling to share in the information I think we could with the public....and I think we need to ask ourselves why."