The Southland Times
Watchdog seeks details of heavily edited report
Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes has asked the Ministry of Health for more information regarding a drastically edited and delayed mental health report.
The public service boss and watchdog is looking at the matter after being asked to investigate by National MP Matt Doocey.
Stuff revealed that the yearslate report for 2018, released in March of 2021, had been delayed by months as officials fought over how much data to include. At one point an official worried there was ‘‘a lot of data and negative statistics’’ without sufficient context.
It was eventually released by the Office of the Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services without several key data points such as wait times and suicides – but the ministry has maintained that this data is available in other formats elsewhere.
Doocey, National’s spokesman for mental health, wrote to the commissioner last week asking him to look into the matter to keep up public confidence in the system.
‘‘A decision to remove information, or even discussion regarding removing information, from a regular report, for the reason that the information includes negative statistics, is deeply troubling,’’ he wrote.
Hughes has not decided whether or not to start an official inquiry into the matter.
But he wrote to Doocey on Tuesday to notify him that he was asking the ministry for more information. ‘‘I am currently looking at your request and have asked the Ministry of Health to provide some information and context in relation to the report,’’ Hughes wrote.
The Ministry of Health has been asked for comment.
Health Minister Andrew Little said it was appropriate for the public service commissioner to look into the matter.