Letter to the Editor: Response to Jay Kuten

It’s not often I’m moved to respond to misinformed opinion pieces in our local newspaper but Jay Kuten’s column published this week demands a strong response.
Mr Kuten, himself a past medical practitioner, so one might have expected better, takes a bizarre leap from the recent Murdoch enquiry and the court decisions relating to Petricevic and Graham etc to the Regional Women’s Health Services proposal and our medical staff. Mr Kuten says:
“Ultimately, though, the involved medical staff who do have responsibility may well be held accountable for the ethical violations incurred resulting from this proposal which cannot provide for informed consent.”
If I’m to link this paragraph with the column headline Maternity plan may put staff in firing line, the implication is serious.
I strongly object to the suggestion that the proposal would lead to “ethical violations” as Mr Kuten puts it and, that WDHB management would allow its senior medical staff to wear the so-called “fallout” from this.
As we have said many times during the consultation process, the proposal was drawn up by WDHB and MidCentral DHB management and senior clinicians who are in absolute agreement that women’s health services in both regions are vulnerable and that the proposal would provide a sustainable service in the long-term future.
I can assure Mr Kuten that neither management team is in the habit of “hanging it’s staff out to dry” as he implies. Nor do they make serious decisions for individual patients without their informed consent.
I ask Mr Kuten to please note that the proposal is not a given. The consultation process around the proposal has been vigorous and very inclusive of our communities.
The WDHB alone has hosted or attended more than 35 meetings; the feedback we’ve had from the public and staff has been meticulously recorded; both boards will soon consider every submission received and as a result of that, the plan that the boards make a decision on could very well look quite different to the proposal.
Does Mr Kuten honestly believe that a proposal/plan that has had so much input from our communities, our staff and our boards would allow for “ethical violations” to occur and that our medical staff would  be placed in an untenable position?
I urge readers to remember that there is still a great deal of detail to be determined and if the two boards do vote in favour of any aspect of a RWHS plan, there would be a slow and carefully executed implementation process to go through.
I’m confident that such a plan would reflect the needs and where possible, the wishes, of our communities and that for this reason alone, it would stand up to the harshest scrutiny.
Regrettably, space does not allow me to comment on the rest of Mr Kuten’s column which, in my opinion, using the word he applies to the RWHS proposal, is “flawed”.
Julie Patterson
WDHB chief executive