Apology given for release of confidential information

A Whanganui District Health Board member has escaped censure for releasing confidential information to the media.

The decision not to censure Philippa Baker-Hogan was made yesterday in the public-excluded section of the full board meeting.

In March, Ms Baker-Hogan sent some information relating to the review of the Regional Women's Health Service to a Wanganui Chronicle reporter. Included in that information was a confidential item - a resolution to dissolve the service following a highly critical review - which the Chronicle subsequently reported in a story.

The last board meeting was held on March 11, the day that the story appeared in the Chronicle. Ms Baker-Hogan was unable to attend that meeting, but made an apology for breaching confidentiality via telephone.


Board members decided to carry the issue forward to yesterday's board meeting so it could be discussed with Ms Baker-Hogan. It was listed as an item for discussion in the public-excluded section.

During yesterday's meeting, she asked that the item be moved to the public section. "I assume this is about me, and I don't want suspicion to fall on others on the board. I have apologised - what more can be discussed? If I am going to be sanctioned, I want that to happen in public."

However, board chairwoman Dot McKinnon said the discussion in the previous meeting had been in private. "Since the matter has been carried forward from the previous meeting, it seemed appropriate to continue it in the public-excluded section. There is also another matter, relating to this one, which needs to be brought up and that could affect the privacy of another board member."

A health board spokeswoman later confirmed that no board member had been censured at the meeting. The Wanganui Chronicle understands no further action will be taken by the board against Ms Baker-Hogan.

The review into the Regional Women's Health Service - a joint initiative between Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Board - followed the death of five babies at Palmerston North Hospital, and serious harm to two more infants, one at Whanganui Hospital.

Ms Baker-Hogan, in her capacity as a Whanganui district councillor, beat censure last week when she was cleared of breaching the council's code of conduct after a complaint by councillor Ray Stevens.