National | Hauora

'Cost-saving' proposal to move Marlborough patient tissue samples to Christchurch scrapped

A proposal to transport patients’ lab samples and tissue samples from the top of the South Island to a Christchurch laboratory has been dropped after criticism from clinicians, politicians and iwi.

The proposal by laboratory company Awanui, which is contracted to provide lab services for Te Whatu Ora – Nelson Marlborough, involved couriering human tissue samples from Nelson to Christchurch for diagnosis.

It was part of a restructure, with a timeframe for feedback ending at the end of May, which would also have seen jobs cut. That didn’t happen.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua pouwhakahaere Shane Graham (Ngāti Rauakwa, Ngāti Korokī Kahukura) says he is pleased that “a win for common sense” prevailed for something “that made no sense whatsoever”.

“When you move the service further away from patients, that’s a real problem. It’s difficult to get services, to access quality healthcare when you’ve got it working well in your region. It makes no sense other than to centralise or reduce costs.

“The other kicker for us was we’re seeing a lot of tissue samples, from a tikanga point of view, transported out of our rohe. We wanted a bit more time to get our heads around what that meant for us… a week’s consultation isn’t going to cut it.”

Bringing in a courier service at a time when terrible weather-affected roads in and around Nelson would increase delays, and the implementation of tikanga Māori was also brought into question.

“I would say it was quite an interesting business case.

“As a subcontractor to Te Whatu Ora they have to take consideration of tikanga Māori, tikanga in the rohe. We have an interest in that because the tissues are our tūpuna, our whānau or our people, we want to know what’s happening with them.”

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