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Dr Jeff Brown: Speech at Signing Ceremony


Speech at Signing Ceremony (7 August 2008)
Dr Jeff Brown
President – Association of Salaried Medical Specialists

I acknowledge five important parties who have helped bring us to this auspicious day. First the Minister of Health, David Cunliffe, whose impetus, impatience with prevarication, and desire for a healthy outcome got us all into the same space. Dennis Cairns, Chair of Southland DHB, has been a personal champion and demonstrates local application of the principles of this agreement. Pat Snedden, Chair of Auckland DHB, not only sparked debate, but also sought resolution and the right conversations. Ross Wilson, former President of the CTU, provided support with wisdom and clarity. And Stephen McKernan, Director-General, has ensured his Ministry have open eyes and ears, to host conversations on behalf of the sector. In fact we will be meeting this afternoon.

Every journey has a script and a story. For me, as ASMS President, this has been a crusade for years. I have exhorted members and managers to lead together. But there have been many intelligent, wise, and passionate practitioners who have talked past each other for too long. With impetus from a new Minister late last year some intelligent, wise and passionate persons gathered in a room together. We took time away from our doctor jobs and desk jobs. We took time away from our patients and policies. We reaffirmed that we had so much common in principle. We worked very hard, together, to reach fundamental agreement. Agreement that we needed a transformation of relationships to achieve a health system of excellence. We made an explicit commitment to a partnership.

This ground breaking work not only produced the agreement we are signing today. It also laid the foundation of trust which allowed Ministerial intervention and eventual resolution of our MECA, which is about much more than money. In fact, what we are signing today is a fundamental component of the MECA.

After the ceremony and symbolism of today, the challenges really begin. The test of our resolve will be how this agreement translates into daily life in our DHBs. The corridor conversations. The bedside decisions. The back office behaviour and front office favour. All will determine whether these are more than just words. Action must flow from the conversations the Ministry will host on behalf of the sector.

As Pat Snedden says - we are all in this together. As the Minister says – we need to learn how to say “yes” to each other. We must strive to turn around the core behaviours in our DHBs, the flax roots of our functioning. Time for Quality must transform, and become, “business as usual”.

Outcomes I see as measures of our success will include: enhanced teamwork and respect; managers supporting senior doctors in the leadership of clinical service design, organisation and delivery; an optimised patient experience; and regional and national solutions in high risk and high gain projects.

In summary. Quality is critical for the health system to succeed. Health professionals are critical for ensuring quality. Their most valuable resource is time. DHBs are responsible for providing this time.

Time for Quality


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