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Former board failed basic tests of good governance

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

17 March 2008

Former board failed basic tests of good governance

Minister of Health David Cunliffe assures the people of Hawke’s Bay that health services come first and he is committed to ensuring this is the focus of the District Health Board as it moves forward.

The independent report into the handling of conflicts of interest at Hawke’s Bay DHB has been released by the Director General of Health today.

Mr Cunliffe, who received the report this morning, said he was satisfied that the report had fulfilled its obligations under the Terms of Reference.

“The report takes a holistic view of the deeply ingrained and widespread governance issues at Hawke’s Bay DHB.”

Mr Cunliffe thanked the independent expert review panel for their hard work and praised their ability to stick to the job at hand despite legal threats, personal attacks, misleading statements about the review and selective leaks to the media.

The report had found there was widespread failure by the Board to manage conflicts of interest.

The review panel found that other Board members also had conflicts of interest that were not properly managed by the Board. Mr Peter Dunkerly is one of a number of examples

“Mr Dunkerly inadequately declared and managed his conflicts of interest with respect to pharmacy contacts in which he had an interest. The Board also failed to manage this situation with the degree of care that should be expected when dealing with millions of dollars of the public’s money.”

The report also found Mr Hausmann could have better managed his conflicts of interest with respect to Wellcare and Community Services.

The former Chair Mr Atkinson could have also managed these better given that he knew in 2004 Mr Hausmann was involved in the proposal for community services but did not disclose that to the then Board nor did Mr Atkinson adequately manage any subsequent conflicts as they arose.

Mr Cunliffe said in essence the report noted a number of failures that pointed to a Board that could not manage its affairs in an appropriate manner.

“This report is effectively a guide on how not to operate as a Board.”

“It makes a number of recommendations that have an impact on DHBs and the health sector. I will be doing my part to ensure they are implemented.”

To quote from the report “With the Minister now having taken the step of appointing a Commissioner, the opportunity is available to reduce any negative impact on health service delivery and to deal with relationship and confidence issues, so that an incoming board can start afresh.”

Had I not replaced the Board with a Commissioner we would not be reading this report today because of an injunction preventing publication taken by its former members.”

I agree with independent review panel Chairman Ian Wilson that “urgent and critical changes at Board level had to be made.”


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