‘Shambolic’ B4 School scheme faces axe

Otago Daily Times 15 Jun 2009

Health Minister Tony Ryall is questioning the future of the B4 School Check programme, saying its delivery has been patchy and its implementation almost “shambolic”. By early May, only about 5500 (11%) of eligible children had received checks which were supposed to identify health, behavioural, social and developmental issues in 4-year-olds which might affect their ability to learn, Mr Ryall said. About 17% of those checked were referred for services or further assessment.

In a blunt letter to all district health board chairmen, which will be tabled at the Otago and Southland community and public health advisory committee meeting tomorrow, Mr Ryall says he will make a decision on the future of the programme after evaluating its delivery to the end of this year. “It is clear that the implementation of this programme across the country was rushed – to the point were it could almost be described as shambolic.”