Monday 7 February 2022

The Spirit of Service

Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes has already told off Kate Hawkesby for criticising his Director General of Health

I wonder what admonishment he'll provide Thomas Coughlan for this piece.

The Ministry of Health has backtracked on a claim by director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield that tests requisitioned from private businesses were not already in New Zealand when the Ministry took them.

Last month, when news broke that the Ministry was requisitioning tests ordered by private companies for its own stocks, Bloomfield said private and public orders of the tests were being "consolidated" into one order for the Government.

Bloomfield twice assured the public that tests taken by the Ministry were "forward orders" from overseas, not tests already in New Zealand.

"Many businesses already have tests onshore and we're not requisitioning those or doing anything like that," Bloomfield said.

This was only partly correct. While tests from one of the manufacturers, Abbott, were not being requisitioned, tests from another manufacturer, Roche, very much were.

He added, "we have discussed with our three main suppliers which are Abbott, Roche and Siemens, that forward orders of tests that haven't arrived in the country be consolidated into the Government's stock so that it is there for the whole country including private businesses".

While no stocks of Abbott tests that are already in the country have been requisitioned, a substantial stock of Roche tests have been, a fact the Ministry now admits.


 Instead of answering what had happened to the missing Roche tests, Bloomfield answered questions relating to Abbott tests - tests which no one had reported as being stolen.

Bloomfield used the press conference to allege that the requisitioning of testing stock had only begun as recently as Sunday, January 23.

"The conversation I had which was Sunday morning with Abbott when we were discussing our forward orders and trying to get as much certainty as possible about how much of those forward orders would be delivered and the timing of those orders between now and February," Bloomfield said.

"During that conversation I was asked about the orders that other New Zealand-based companies had and I was asked about whether they should prioritise delivery to that All-of-Government order," Bloomfield said.

So the government stole consolidated a pile of private companies' orders of Roche RATs, then Bloomfield either obfuscated or lied about it from the Podium of Truth. 

Not the best as we move into the next phase of the pandemic. Having a public service that provides demonstrable falsehoods from the public health lectern may not be the best way of keeping everyone on-side with necessary public health measures. 

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