Health Board delays answers on death probe

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 07:43 15/11/2012

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The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board is stonewalling questions about a police inquiry following the death of a woman after surgery at Blenheim's Wairau Hospital.

A board spokeswoman said yesterday it would respond to questions from the Marlborough Express within 20 working days - the maximum allowed under the Official Information Act.

The spokeswoman said that if compiling the information took more than an hour, the board might require payment before the task was completed.

The Express suggested that, because of the inquiry taking place, the board must have all the information readily available.

The spokeswoman said that was correct, but it was not all in electronic format, which made rapid retrieval of the information more difficult.

"We like to be very thorough with any Official Information Act request and do more than a cursory search of our documentation . . . to provide the public with most accurate information that we can," she said.

The Express has asked how many inquiries are under way following death or serious unexpected outcomes following surgery at the hospital, how many had been completed since July 2010 and their outcomes.

The Express also sought a breakdown showing whether these were being investigated by the Health and Disability Commission, the Medical Council, the coroner, or the police.

On Tuesday, Detective Sergeant Jason Hillgrove said police were in the early stages of investigating the death of a patient on January 17 last year after surgery at the hospital.

Two women operated on in December 2010 and February 2011 have had complaints relating to their surgery at the hospital accepted by the Health and Disability Commission.

The health board is also running an inquiry after the unexpected death of a patient at the hospital in May.

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- The Marlborough Express

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