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Is Hawke's Bay DHB problem the tip of an iceberg?

17 March 2008

Is Hawke's Bay DHB problem just the tip of an iceberg?

The Green Party is calling for mandatory reporting and tightening of the rules surrounding potential conflict of interest in the light of the Hawke's Bay District Health Board report released today.

"The revelations of systemic conflicts of interest in a district health board undermine confidence in the operation of all DHBs, and the government needs to take strong and decisive action to ensure this can never happen again," Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

Ms Kedgley said she doesn't believe any board member should, for example, be allowed to enter into business relations with a DHB they sit on, where they stand to gain a personal financial benefit.

Further actions are also needed to ensure that district health board members are adequately monitored and trained to handle potential conflicts of interest.

"It is clear from the findings of the report that procedures for declaring conflicts of interest were sloppy and ineffective, and there is no guarantee that similar conflicts have not, or could not, occur in other DHBs. It is possible that this case is just the tip of a very large iceberg."

The Green Party was also surprised that the investigation had not addressed the involvement of the then Health Minister in Mr Hausmann's appointment, Ms Kedgley says.

"I still want to know why the Managing Director of a major private health provider was appointed to the Board in the first instance.

"It also seems odd that the report acknowledges the serious conflict of interest Mr Hausmann had in the Wellcare contract, but failed to condemn this behaviour more vigorously.

"Given the obvious unhappiness of the other now sacked members of the board and the concerns that have been raised over the entire incident, I would support calls for a further investigation by the Auditor General."


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