Date: Tuesday, 19 March 2013 11:10 AM
To: <tony.ryall@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: <a.king@parliament.govt.nz>, <kevin.hague@parliament.govt.nz>
Subject: The Blundell Family

Dear Tony

I refer you to the article in the Dompost today


I have had the pleasure of meeting the Blundell’s and baby Addison. I am frankly appalled at their situation and appalled at the callous approach begin taken by your officials, particularly Pat Tuohy, have taken in this case.

Just to remind you… Addison was the victim of a New Born Hearing screener who falsified her result and gave her a clean result. This is despite Addison having a profound hearing loss.

The hearing screening programme is a programme designed and implemented entirely under your watch as Minister.

The programme was implemented without an audit regime to check with wayward screeners. This is something your officials were aware was a risk because they attended a conference where a paper was presented on this very situation which occurred in the UK.

The result is that Addison is now 14 moths old and has not had any hearing. Typically, if she was correctly identified through the screening process she would have been implanted at age 6 months. She is scheduled for one Cochlear Implant this Thursday. She is only having one CI done because her family have not had the time to fundraise for a second. They want a second but a couple of months is not adequate time to fundraise. 6 months would have been adequate.

The result of this fraud and incompetency is that the family have had the opportunity to get a second CI done in the same operation removed from them. This is entirely because of the actions of people you are responsible for.

The impact of this is:

  1. That Addison will be put through a second operation. In effect your officials are inflecting extra pain, stress and suffering that is clinically able to be avoided.
  2. The Blundell family need to find an additional $16k (doing the second CI together with the first costs $34k. Doing it later costs $50k)
  3. There will be additional habilitation/therapy required to balance the two CIs
  4. There is potential for Addison’s long term hearing to be not as good as it could be (see the research of Boon 2012)

This situation is clinically and morally unacceptable. Your officials have lost sight of what is the best for a child. They should be adopting the LV Martin adage – “Its the putting right that counts”.

There is still time. You can either instruct your officials to authorize a bilateral implantation this Thursday and then sort out the payment of it later. There is a strong moral argument that your MoH should correct their mistake. But even if you just gave the Blundell family 6-12 months to fundraise would clinically benefit Addison and financially remove the penalty you are imposing on this family for your officials errors.

I call on you to make this URGENT decision.

Kind regards

Sym Gardiner

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