Health Minister Andrew Little throws support behind 'terrific' Ashley Bloomfield, despite misleading committee

Health Minister Andrew Little says he'll be talking to the Director-General of Health on Monday about his misleading of Parliament's health select committee. 

Ashley Bloomfield told the committee on Wednesday he hadn't discussed the transfer of an ill United Nations worker from COVID-ravaged Fiji to New Zealand with officials, but later admitted he had. 

In a letter to committee chair Labour MP Liz Craig, Dr Bloomfield said he had exchanged text messages with Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade Chris Seed about the Fijian, who was taken into Auckland's Middlemore Hospital suffering a serious bout of COVID-19.

Dr Bloomfield said he forgot about the brief exchange when questioned about the case by the committee, and would correct the record. 

Little told Newshub Nation on Saturday it was a fast-moving situation and he retains confidence in the Director-General.

"Ashley is dealing with a lot of issues all the time. I have immense respect for him - I think he is doing a terrific job with a ministry that is being pulled all over the place to do a whole heap of things."

Dr Bloomfield has been the public face of the Ministry of Health's response to COVID-19, juggling that with the Government's reforms of the health system and new investments into mental health. 

Little said he regularly meets with Dr Bloomfield, and will talk to him about the text messages on Monday.

ACT leader David Seymour suggested there was more Dr Bloomfield had "just forgot".

"Ashley Bloomfield’s admission that he just forgot he’d been texting the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the UN worker from Fiji shows an official being economical with the truth," he said after Newshub Nation aired. 

"Perhaps most telling is his protestation, that he didn't intend to mislead the committee. We think the Director-General protests too much."

He then blamed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying she was finding transparency "difficult to deliver". 

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