Personal Statement From Peter Hausmann
13 March 2008
Personal Statement From Peter Hausmann
In recent weeks I have faced inaccurate, incorrect and unsubstantiated criticism relating to my role on the Hawke's Bay District Health Board.
So far, and in the face of considerable provocation, I have kept to my word not to discuss matters relating to the Director-General of Health's Review, out of respect for the agreement that all parties have made with the Review Panel to maintain the confidentiality and uphold the integrity of that process.
Healthcare of New Zealand has been focusing on getting on with the business of looking after the 17,000 New Zealanders who are entrusted to our care, and the 500 severely disabled people who we provide for in our residential facilities.
But few people would be able to continue to hold their tongue against such a barrage. I and my colleagues and our families have had so many questions from the people who matter most to us, that we can no longer afford to be entirely silent on the matter.
I am confident that the Review Panel Report will explain clearly what happened at Hawke's Bay DHB, and will vindicate and explain my position. While I will not break the confidentiality agreement that I have with the Panel, there are some things that I can say now without breaching that agreement.
What I found on the Board
I came onto the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board expecting to bring my business enthusiasm and innovation, my understanding of governance, and my experience at the coal face of management of community health service delivery.
But I was horrified to find that the Board was not a professional operation at all.
Instead, it was a place where some board members were behaving poorly towards very competent management and medical staff.
The lack of good governance process was messing things up badly and endangering the possibility of improving the health of Hawkes Bay people. Due to a breakdown in trust between Board and management, good decisions by clinicians and management were being changed and re-visited by the Board. It was difficult to find a rational or logical reason for the behaviour I was observing.
I challenged this approach. I challenged some Board members' interests involving a number of commercial contracts. And I also challenged the Board’s mistreatment of management, doctors and nurses.
I tried to introduce professional discipline into the Board’s discussion and decision-making. It would appear that this was not appreciated.
I joined the Board with high hopes. I did what I thought was right when I saw the reality of the Board’s mismanagement of good, hard working people in the DHB. I stood up for better governance.
When my threat to those in entrenched positions started to weaken their power, and I refused to step down from the Board, I became a target.
Correcting the facts
That campaign has included false allegations about my conduct and that of Healthcare of New Zealand – including that I improperly used my place on the Board to further my own interests and those of Healthcare of New Zealand, to the tune of $50 million.
There is absolutely no truth in any of this.
I declared my interests fully before I joined the Board and again once I was on the Board. Board interests registers show that my declarations were fuller than those offered by any of my Board colleagues.
There was no $50 million contract – there was a proposal for a public-private partnership, an RFP to consider how that might work, and a process for developing terms of reference for that partnership's feasibility. All of my involvement in that whole process, including before I joined the Board, was known by, and was sanctioned by, the Chairman. Why it was later used against me can only be the subject for speculation about the motives of others.
I’ve been caught in the middle of a battle of very big commercial, regional and political interests. It would be tempting to back down and just walk away, but there are important issues at stake for health, so I don’t see that I can back down. The Review into governance at HBDHB – which I sought – is nearly complete. I’m confident that the report that comes out will state the facts and show that I did what was right, while some others on the Board did not.
I look forward to the release of the Review Panel's final report next week in the expectation that it will once and for all clear up these factual inaccuracies and allow us to get on with the business of providing healthcare to New Zealanders.