It has lasted more than 50 years, but the Auckland Health Board has finally publicly apologized to the women at the heart of New Zealand's most controversial medical experiment.
This is the first time that ADHB formally apologized that the experiment resulted in an early death for many women.
The women – patients in the National Women & # 39; s Hospital in the sixties and seventies – unconsciously participated in research by the late Professor Herb Green.
His "unfortunate experiment" followed these women with cervical abnormalities without definitively treating them, and without their knowledge or consent.
ADHB chairman Pat Snedden says: "These patients, including mothers, sisters, partners, daughters, friends and colleagues, whaea and tamāhine, were failed by people they trusted to care for their health and well-being.
"We apologize to the affected women for these abuses, and for those who have been with them, their whānau, supporters and communities, we also apologize."
Clare Matheson, who was a professor of Green for twelve years and eventually developed cervical cancer, says that the apology is exactly what she wanted.
"It is comprehensive, inadequate, a recognition of past mistakes and a firm confirmation to ensure that they do not happen again."
It is believed that about 70 of Green's research developed patients with cervical cancer – about half of them died as a result.
Professor Green's research was approved by a committee of senior medical staff from National Women's, which was then operated by the Auckland Hospital Board. But now, finally, the ADHB has decided to "fix this wrongly".
"To learn from the mistakes of the past," says Snedden, "it is crucial that we remember all aspects of our history, including this serious failure in our care."
The apology of ADHB follows a similar move by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of midwives and gynecologists in 2017.
In the mid-1980s Professor Green's experiment became an important news item – the government ordered an investigation led by Judge Silvia Cartwright.
Her report, released 30 months ago this month, not only stated that the early stages of cervical cancer in national women had not been treated, but also that doctors' ethical practices related to information sharing and obtaining informed consent failed.
SUNDAY reporter John Hudson, who has been following this story for more than three decades, has a touching interview tonight with Clare Matheson on SUNDAY on TVNZ1 at 7:30 PM.