Ayesha Verrall

Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall had to correct an answer in Parliament today revealing that her staff requested HealthNZ delay publishing data showing how poor emergency department wait times have become so as not to conflict with other announcements, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“The last available data the Government released shows emergency department wait times are getting longer for sick and injured New Zealanders since Labour took office, going from 91 per cent of patients being seen within six hours in September 2017, to only 72 per cent in December last year.

“It is simply shocking that the Labour Government would manipulate the publication of key health data so it doesn’t get in the way of other announcements.“Minister Verrall now joins the list of Ministers with murky dealings – and the incident leaves a lot of questions for her to answer.

“What were the announcements with which she didn’t want the data release to interfere with? Was the CEO of HealthNZ aware of the Minister’s request and what actions, if any, did she take? How many other times has the Minister or her office communicated with HealthNZ to delay the release of health information?

“The more layers that are peeled back from this government, the more we see of ministers manipulating their power.

“Minister Verrall needs to come clean and explain why her office would withhold such important data.”