Ministry of Health must apologise for its stubbornness

The Ministry of Health must front up and apologise to the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for its denial of access to Māori health data that would help them lift Māori vaccination rates, says National’s spokesperson for Whānau Ora Harete Hipango.

Yesterday in the High Court, Whānau Ora won comprehensive victory in an urgent judgment on whether the Ministry of Health should give Whānau Ora access to Māori vaccination data.

“It was found that the Ministry did not have adequate regard to Te Tiriti and its principles in the context of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

“The Ministry of Health should not only hand over data and abide by the Te Tiriti as it has been ordered to do, but it should also issue a public apology for its inconsistencies and for blocking Whānau Ora from vaccinating its Māori communities in a life threatening pandemic – to the point where litigation was the only option.

“The Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency has vaccinated more than 510,000 individuals, of whom 90 per cent are non-Māori. It should have been given the resources to vaccinate Māori from the very beginning.

“National said in its Opening Up plan released back in September that it would allow data held by District Health Boards (DHBs) and Primary Health Organisations about patients to be automatically accessed by Whānau Ora providers.

“If it were up to us, we would have found a way for Whānau Ora to access the data and still be consistent with the Privacy Act.

“It was wrong that the Ministry was happy to give the data to Healthline but not to Whānau Ora.

“It’s shameful, and the Government and relevant Ministers must account for the obstructive and duplicitous standards and practices.

“However, it seems unlikely that will happen as all the Government has done this term is lay the blame on others for its own mistakes. It’s time for Labour leaders to front up and admit they’ve done wrong by Whānau Ora, and by Māori.

“It’s quite the coincidence that this morning, right after the decision was made, the Government decided to announce the approval of $23.3 million for eight Māori organisations and iwi aimed at boosting Māori vaccination rates.

“What we are seeing yet again is the Government trying to shift the narrative. Leaders are deflecting and hiding from the consequences of their own actions by making another grand gesture in the form of a cash injection.

“They’re not fooling anyone.”