Waikato DHB goes into the hands of a Commissioner

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Health Minister David Clark said that a Commissioner was needed to lead the “significant changes” required at the Waikato District Health Board (DHB).

Dr Clark said on May 7, 2019 that Director General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi will take up the Commissioner’s role, starting the next day (Wednesday, May 8, 2019).

He said that nine of the 11 board members offered to resign.

Necessary step

“I think that reflects the seriousness of the challenges they have been dealing with. While I thank the board members for their service, installing a Commissioner is a necessary step towards addressing the DHB’s deteriorating financial position, lack of strong governance, and ongoing performance issues with clinical services,” he said.

Dr Clark said that the financial performance of the DHB had sharply deteriorated.

“Despite the efforts by the Crown Monitor, there has been limited progress due to instability at a governance level. The ongoing performance issues with clinical services are concerning – as is the DHB’s inability to recruit a permanent chief executive,” he said.

Deficit and instability

Last month, Dr Clark told the board he was “seriously dissatisfied” with its performance and increasingly worried about its growing deficit and instability.

On governance, the DHB is not managing some basics – like getting patients seen in the Emergency Department within the six-hour time frame expected – contributing to dysfunctional relationships with a couple of other hospitals in the DHB’s own region.

Board decisions have also reportedly reached the media while the board is still meeting. Senior doctors are worried decisions are not being made, and some GPs are also unhappy.

A members-only meeting of the board met later in April to discuss the future of the board.

Support from Chair

Waikato DHB Chair Sally Webb supported the decision to sack the board and appoint a commissioner. In April she told Checkpoint the board had failed to provide focused leadership.

“I believe that it is my role as Chair to be able to assure the minister that I can provide focused leadership for the organisation and I’ve been unable to do that. So yes, I guess we would call it game over,” Ms Web said. I have talked to the … Minister about the advantages of having a commissioner, yes. And personally, I believe that the appointment of a Commissioner is the right move to ensure that Waikato District Health Board has the trusted, focused leadership it needs to address the challenges it faces,” she said.

-Published under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz

Waikato Hospital Photo: Supplied Waikato DHB Facebook


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