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Health Minister’s Mixed Record; A Tale Of Two Ministers

Attention: Health Reporter

Media Statement For Immediate Release,

wednesday 27 February 2014
“Health Minister’s Mixed Record; A Tale Of Two Health Ministers - Good To Disappointing”

“Tony Ryall’s performance as Health Minister has been mixed. He got off to a very good start but after a couple of years his performance became increasingly disappointing,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was responding to Mr Ryall’s announcement that he would not stand for re-election later this year.

“In his first two years Mr Ryall got off to an excellent start with some good initiatives including:

• Restoring the right of doctors to elect some of the doctors on their registration body, the Medical Council.
• Recognising the vulnerability of the public hospital specialist workforce describing it as a crisis and his number one priority to fix.
• A very good policy statement on clinical leadership in district health boards (In Good Hands).
• Strengthening the ability of the Health Ministry to support and better coordinate fragmented district health boards through the creation of its National Health Board.”

“Particularly since 2011, however, there has been a reversal for the worse. This includes:

• Abandoning his commitment to address the vulnerability of the hospital specialist workforce by knowingly using dodgy misleading data. This U-turn led to him turning a blind eye to public hospitals struggling to function under entrenched specialist shortages.
• Increasingly financially squeezing public hospitals while increasing the demands on what they are required to do.
• Excessive political micro-management, including threatened financial penalties, in order to achieve his targets. This is creating a punitive culture in public hospitals which inhibits innovation and stresses an overworked workforce.
• The shared objective of improved clinical leadership in district health boards has suffered a big set-back.”

“Overall there has been a failure to invest in the health workforce in public hospitals, including senior doctors, which is critical for improving quality of patient care, patient safety and cost effectiveness.”

“At the same time Mr Ryall needs to provide a satisfactory explanation over while he asked for the advice of the head of a private health company over who should be the chair of the Southern DHB when that company and the DHB were in a huge financial dispute over how $5-6 million given to the private company was spent. This obvious conflict of interest should have had flashing alarm lights all over it.”

“It feels like we have had a tale of two health ministers,” concluded Mr Powell.

Ian Powell



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