It’s a bit late now for Labour’s needle

A tiresome Labour threesome, Annette King, Grant Roberston and Ruth Dyson, apparently had nothing better to do yesterday than attempt to embarrass National (or try to) for consequences of the Clark Government’s shortcomings.

They are howling for Health Minister Tony Ryall to “urgently investigate what’s gone wrong with child cancer services at Wellington Hospital, and reassure parents that systems are in place to ensure the service works for the region’s children.”

Their howls were prompted – just a few months into the first term of the Key Government – by two child cancer oncologists quitting from jobs at Wellington Hospital to take up jobs in North America.

The oncologists had taken up their Wellington positions – to end an earlier crisis – just a matter of months ago.

So how long were those Labour buggers running the shop? Nine depressing years.

For much of that time, King was Minister of Health.

The Labour MPs obviously consumed a great amount of time musing on what they should prescribe in their joint media statement yesterday, because news of problems with the child cancer services was broken at the crack of dawn.

The MPs issued their demands of the Government late in the afternoon.

This implies it took them most of the day to decide they should demand the Key Government do something. How much are we paying them?

Something is awry at the hospital, no doubt. The resignations of the two paediatric oncologists may have put the future of the Wellington region child cancer service into doubt.

But whatever has gone awry isn’t recent. King concedes as much by referring to troubles two years ago.

“We know that this will be a stressful time for the families and children involved. They need some certainty about the future of these services, and the National Government must act quickly to find a long term solution,” Annette King said.

“National certainly talked the talk in opposition. When Capital Coast Health DHB paediatric oncology service was at risk two years ago Mr Ryall used words like appalling and demanded a Health Select Committee inquiry,” she said.

This is payback time, then.

“His fear-mongering then was inexcusable for the stress it caused to parents and children who were already suffering. Labour won’t repeat that sort of emotional and nasty language, but Mr Ryall now must front and tell us what he plans to do.

“This is no longer about boosting his personal profile. It’s about actually ensuring a vital service is provided for our region’s children.”

Ruth Dyson and Grant Robertson said the region’s families of children with cancer deserve quick action to ensure their children get the very best treatment the public health system can deliver.”

Grant Robertson said he would seek an urgent meeting with Tony Ryall to ask him what he intends to do.

He should sit down with his colleagues to ask something else: “why didn’t we do better when we were calling the shots?”

The answer might help explain why they are sticking the needle into the National Government as a member of the Opposition.

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