Kiwi woman who died in Bali was 'let down' by the Government, ACT leader David Seymour says

Abby Hartley, the New Zealnad woman who died after falling gravely ill while on holiday in Bali, was "let down" by the Government, ACT leader David Seymour says.

"It's a tragedy to lose anyone, and to go through the kind of saga that they've had and to have it played out in public and to feel so let down by their insurance company and the Government is truly tragic," Mr Seymour told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

Ms Hartley was hospitalised on August 1 while on her second honeymoon with her husband, Richard, on the Indonesian island.

Her insurer said they were unable to pay out after she failed to disclose a pre-existing medical condition.

Earlier this month, National Party leader Simon Bridges helped organise a medevac for Ms Hartley to return home, but she was ultimately unable to fly out after becoming too ill to travel.

Richard Hartley had emailed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on August 18 and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters about Ms Hartley's situation.

The Government said they were unable to help.

"I understand that Abby's situation is a very challenging one," Mr Peters said in his response, quoted by NZ Herald.

"However I have to confirm that the New Zealand Government is unable to fund the costs of medical care of evacuations for New Zealanders who become ill while overseas."

Abby Hartley’s insurer didn’t pay out after she became ill on the Indonesian Island. Source: 1 NEWS

Nurses’ union says leaked document shows Plunket wants to cut comprehensive well child checks

Nurses are warning changes to Plunket services in Auckland will cut clinics or clinic time for many babies.

In an internal Plunket document obtained by RNZ, the child welfare group said there could be fewer home visits and parents might have to travel further to clinics if they had the resources to.

Families "may have more clinic appointments vs home visit", the document said, in an appendix titled Equity Planning Team Resource.

Read the full document here (PDF, 16KB)

Under risks, the document listed "potential for clients to 'fall through the gaps'" and "community impact - what if it is made public?"

The Nurses Organisation union said nurses had been told "they will run 10-minute appointments only. This is not enough time, even for an appointment where a baby is only weighed".

Plunket said in a statement to RNZ that none of its services were changing.

RNZ asked Plunket to explain the apparent contradictions between its internal and public statements, but it did not, and has not made its chief executive available for interview.

The nurses' union fears the changes could be part of Plunket moving to curtail its universal services, which see it offer care to nine out of 10 babies born in New Zealand, in response to a staffing crisis.

A Nurses' Organisation submission to the proposed changes said :"Plunket management should solve the short staffing and staff retention problems before introducing changes that will not alleviate these problems."

Read Nurses' Organisation submission on Plunket's Equity Planning Draft (PDF 1.5MB)

Its members had been told families in affluent areas would be deemed "low needs".

Plunket's public statement said it was not changing its universal service, but its internal document uses the term "progressive universal service".

This was a contradiction, the union said: "A service that is only offered to some people is no longer a universal service."

Plunket's internal document said the aim was increased staffing, visits and support in high-needs areas, and having an "equitable" spread of supervisors and front-line nurses, it said.

Plunket's 300 nurses in Auckland were already overworked, the union said.

"An overwhelming majority of members consulted oppose the planned changes and had grave concerns about associated matters," the Nurses' Organisation submission said.

"Members report that at verbal briefings, they have been told that Plunket will be cancelling home visits and full clinic visits for some clients and replacing these with 'speed clinics' or 'drop-in clinics' where those clients can arrive without appointment to have their babies weighed only," its submission said.

"Nurses have allegedly been told not to follow up clients who are offered a drop-in clinic service but don't arrive."

Current clinic appointments lasted 45 minutes; it was not clear which parts were meant to be left out, it said.

Plunket says no staffing or service changes

In a statement Plunket, said it was "not making any changes to staff numbers or making any changes to the services provided to customers".

"Plunket is not introducing speed clinics to replace our usual services. We have been piloting some open clinics in West Auckland, which enable customers to drop in if they wish and have any top of mind matters addressed at a time that suits them - so whether customers receive a check at home or at a clinic depends entirely upon them."

However, its internal document identified an interruption of continuity of care for babies as a risk.

Plunket nurses' pay was now 5 percent behind DHB nurses following those nurses' recent pay settlement, union organiser Danielle Davies said.
The agency was trying to put a "bandaid" on the staffing crisis to the detriment of baby healthcare, she said.

A five-day consultation period on the proposal ended recently; it is unclear if this extended to all staff or just managers.

The union was waiting to hear back from Plunket. The details of the proposal provided in the consultation were inadequate, Ms Davies said.

Plunket's annual report last year shows just over a third of its 570,000 contacts with families were in the three highest deprivation areas. It had 51,000 new babies referred to it, which was nine out of 10 babies born nationwide.

Earlier this year, Plunket cut a dozen or so mostly management and administration jobs in the central region around Wellington.

It has also been moving to centralise its management, triggering concern among local area organisations that they would be nobbled.

Plunket has said its multi-million-dollar deficit is mostly due to the costs of rolling out an electronic health recording system nationwide. It gets three-quarters of its funding from the government.

The Nurses' Organisation is also concerned whether the agency is using enough casual nurses to pick up a patient load, and that some Saturday clinics in Auckland appear set to shut.

By Phil Pennington

Plunket is denying it’s considering cuts, but the Children’s Commissioner remains angry about the suggestion. Source: 1 NEWS

Kiwi woman Abby Hartley who fell ill while holidaying in Bali dies

Abby Hartley, the New Zealand woman who fell gravely ill while in Bali, has died.

Ms Hartley, 41, was hospitalised on August 1 while on holiday with her husband, Richard, as part of a second honeymoon on the Indonesian island.

A twisted bowel saw her suffer several infections, a collapsed lung and kidney failure. She was rendered comatose early this month.

A Givealittle fundraising effort raised $237,000 to fly Ms Hartley back to New Zealand after her travel insurer didn't pay out, saying she had not disclosed a pre-existing medical condition. 

National Party leader Simon Bridges confirmed Ms Hartley died in Bali in a statement to 1 NEWS.

"I learned late weekend and contacted Richard Hartley to pass my condolences on to him and his family and offer any help I could. He was very gracious," Mr Bridges said.

"I am incredibly saddened for Richard and his family about Abby - my heart really goes out to them at this awful time."

Mr Bridges helped organise a medevac flight for Ms Hartley to return home earlier this month but Ms Hartley remained in Bali, too ill to travel.

Mr Hartley had emailed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on August 18 and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters about Ms Hartley's situation.

The Government said they were unable to help.

"I understand that Abby's situation is a very challenging one," Mr Peters said in his response, quoted by NZ Herald.

"However I have to confirm that the New Zealand Government is unable to fund the costs of medical care of evacuations for New Zealanders who become ill while overseas."

In a statement today Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: "We are saddened to learn that Abby Hartley has died. Our thoughts are with Abby's family at this difficult time."

"The New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta is providing consular assistance to the family."

The Hartley family with their wife and mum, Abby. Source: Givealittle


Foam contamination found in streams around Palmerston North airport

Contamination from banned chemicals in firefighting foam at levels above safe drinking water guidelines has been found in streams around Palmerston North airport.

Seven surface water samples have all tested above the guidelines for the banned chemical PFOS.

People are being advised to not gather eels or watercress at Mangaone Stream, Richardsons Line Drain or streams near the airport flowing through the Madison Avenue and Jefferson Crescent area, Clearview Park and McGregor Street.

Streams around Palmerston North airport are contaminated with firefighting foam chemicals at between three and 12 times the safe drinking water guidelines.

But Palmerston North City Council said ecological toxicity limits were not exceeded in the streams.

None of the waterways were used for the city's supply and drinking water bores on the city supply tested all-clear of PFOS in April, the city council said.

"This means everyone on the Palmerston North water supply can be reassured it is not contaminated and is safe for consumption," chief executive Heather Shotter said.

However, anyone with a private bore near the airport was being urged to contact authorities.

Swimming and showering in potentially affected water is not considered to pose a significant risk.

Two dozen soil and sediment samples were also tested from the former fire training area, north of the main runway and around the Rescue Fire Station site. It is unclear what the results of those tests are.

The airport has admitted using the foam up till last December despite it being banned in 2006.

About 250 litres of firefighting foam concentrate had been used since the late 1980s for testing fire truck foam systems, the airport said.

However, the chemical, and other man-made chemicals from the long-lasting and damaging per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) family, are extremely long-lasting.

They build up in the body with repeated exposure over time. Research into their health impacts is so far inconclusive, although in Europe and parts of the US they are considered possibly cancer-causing, or an actual risk to unborn babies.

A group with representatives from Palmerston North Airport, Horizons Regional Council, Palmerston North City Council, and MidCentral DHB Public Health Services has been set up to handle the PFOS contamination.

The airport was working on a disposal plan of PFOS foam, which would be replaced with fluorine-free firefighting foam, airport chief executive David Lanham said.

More bores will begin to be drilled next week for more tests, to assess if contaminated groundwater was moving off the airport site, Mr Lanham said.

The regulation of PFASs has been weak.

Several airports including Auckland, have admitted using or storing the PFOS foam until recently despite it being banned in 2006, as has the petrochemical industry in Taranaki.

Regional councils have been ordered to identify potentially contaminated sites but little investigating has been done, with councils saying they are waiting for more guidance from the Environment Ministry.

The Defence Force is exempt from fines under the Resource Management Act over its contamination of groundwater at several bases.

"There are no formal requirements for landowners or regulatory authorities to notify [the public of] the results of investigations," the ministry said in a statement today.

"A landowner could, however, be required to report potential contamination when seeking resource consent."

PFASs were not included in the drinking-water standards, only in interim guidelines, so district health boards and the Ministry of Health do not need to be told if they were found, it said.

Port Taranaki found high levels of PFOS beside a tank farm near New Plymouth in July 2017 but did not tell anyone else for a year.

"Currently there is no consistent evidence that environmental exposures at the low levels New Zealanders are generally exposed to will cause harmful health effects," the ministry said.

"The interim guidance levels for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water were derived from effects found at certain doses in animal studies.

The guidance levels are based on a person weighing 70 kg drinking 2 litres of water every day over a lifetime without any significant risk to health.

Although there is no consistent evidence that the effects in animals also occur in humans, the Ministry of Health recommends that an alternative drinking water source is used to protect health if the interim guidance levels are exceeded."

- By Phil Pennington

The foam has already contaminated drinking water at properties near Ohakea and Woodbourne airbases.
Source: 1 NEWS

Kaimai Rail Tunnel celebrates its 40th birthday as a vital piece of infrastructure

There's a birthday celebration for a vital piece of infrastructure which dates back to the days of Sir Robert Muldoon.

The Kaimai Rail Tunnel linking the eastern Waikato to the Bay of Plenty is 40 years old today.

And back in the 1970s it was as big a deal, construction-wise, as the rail corridor currently being built under central Auckland.

Reporter Michael Holland has the full story for TVNZ1's Seven Sharp in the video above.

The tunnel links eastern Waikato to the Bay of Plenty. Source: Seven Sharp