Kevin Hague

What Tony Ryall doesn’t know

by Kevin Hague

A crucial part of the role of any Minister is to know what is happening in their area of responsibility.

It seems that Tony Ryall, however, is taking a ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ approach to being the Minister of Health.

My previous blog posts on what Tony Ryall doesn’t want to answer and what Tony Ryall doesn’t want to do and what Tony Ryall doesn’t want to spend didn’t quite capture the whole frustrations of trying to hold a Minister to account when he so doesn’t want to be.

I thought it would be good to put together a list of things that we have asked the Minister about that he doesn’t know the answer to. As you will see, some of them are pretty crucial to our health system.

What the Minister won’t answer:

  • My letter to him on total obesity funding and whether or not he mislead the House when he said that  “we announced a $35.5 million boost of new funding over 4 years for New Zealanders with or at risk of developing diabetes, pre-diabetes, and heart disease. This is in addition to the other funding that the Government invests in initiatives to encourage New Zealanders to make healthy changes to their lifestyles.” We think this $35.5 million is part of the existing funding, not new at all.
  •  My correspondence with his office on the issue of collecting doctor vacancy rates and why he doesn’t do so.
  • My written questions on what advice he received or sought on various aspects of the Very Low Cost Access scheme. He said “I am kept appraised of the progress of the VLCA scheme in briefings, as appropriate” – which is not exactly an illuminating answer, but one he stuck to under further questioning.

Things the Minister hasn’t sought advice on.

Things the Minister has no opinion on or plans to do:

Things which are awfully convenient for the Minister and Ministry not to know:

At least he’s pretty consistent with his non-answering. Jan Logie’s questions on the review of standards for doctors’ behaviour in the light of sexual offending against patients got a similar brush off.

It’s impossible to capture in a concise way the extent of Ryall’s obfuscation as the Minister of Health.  But his responses here do paint a picture of a Minister who cares more about the politics of health statistics than he does about the actual people which those statistics represent.

Published in Health & Wellbeing by Kevin Hague on Thu, October 31st, 2013   

Tags: , , , , , ,

More posts by | more about Kevin Hague