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Statement by Dave Macpherson regarding Board Chair

Statement by Waikato DHB elected member Dave Macpherson regarding Board Chair's position

There have been a number of public calls in recent days for the resignation of Waikato DHB Board Chair Bob Simcock, arising out of the $218,000 expenses claimed by former DHB CEO Nigel Murray, and the Board handling of that issue.

As a new Board member, I have had serious concerns about Board and organisational processes – relating to this issue, and to other matters – since I took up my position in December 2016.

Four weeks ago, I issued a public statement challenging Bob Simcock’s reported claim that he had the “confidence” of the DHB Board over his handling of the issue (see details below). No information I have received since that time have caused me to change my view that I don’t have confidence in the Chair over this issue.

Further, the ongoing public debate over Mr Simcock’s position and actions has caused attention to drawn away from the important health issues facing our community and the DHB organisation specifically. Bob has dug his heels in, and stated that he is refusing to resign until he ‘is asked to.’

I am personally making it quite specific that I think Bob Simcock should resign from the position of Chair of the Waikato DHB as soon as possible.

He is doing our organisation no good by staying in the position, and causing the focus to be on himself and his position.

Waikato DHB has a new, interim, CEO who has the goodwill of staff, the Board and the community who know him. He needs a Board with as little baggage arising from past problems as possible, so he can be fully supported as he moves to sort out problems that have arisen in the last three years.

As Chair, Bob has tried to do his best for the DHB since he was appointed. However, the fact remains that some serious problems have occurred on his watch, and as the Chair appointed by the previous Government, he is accountable for them, and needs to accept that accountability.


(9/10/17) Explicitly, I don’t have confidence in the way you have handled this issue, for the following reasons:
The CEO is required to file an annual expenses return by August of each year. As you are the only person with the authority to approve the CEO’s expenses, I believe – with or without staff reports – you ought to have known that this had not been done from August 2015 onwards, and ought to have been taking action over this failure from that time – almost two years before you informed the Board of the concerns.
A second annual CEO expenses return was required to be filed in August 2016, but was not.
A former member of Parliament has publicly stated that she met with you prior to the Nigel Murray’s formal appointment to warn you of issues with Murray’s work as a CEO as his previous place of employment. She has stated that you rejected her warning, but would ‘keep an eye on the matter’ (my paraphrasing).
You have not required any report back from any of the overseas travel for Conferences and other matters that you authorised for the CEO, or were taken without authorisation. Such action would have demonstrated that you were ‘keeping an eye on’ the CEO.
When the 2015 and 2016 CEO expenses reports were finally filed late around Xmas 2016, you did not take any action to check that they were accurate or complete. It appears from public comments you have now made that those reports are very likely to have included unauthorised expenditure that is now going to be claimed back from the former CEO. Irregularities in these reports could have been found and addressed 9 months ago, had you fulfilled what I believe is your obligation to be on top of the CEO’s expenses, on behalf of the Board.
The fact that the Xmas 2016 media article you refer to highlighted the very high quantum of expenses set out in those returns, ought to have triggered checking or investigative action by yourself. That fact that you did not take any action at that point – that you have informed us about – has put the Board in some jeopardy, and perhaps the whole DHB organisation.
From information you have now given to the public, it seems that you informed the Ministry of Health (and perhaps other Government entities) of the staffs concerns about the CEO’s expenses some three weeks or more before you informed the Board. While I have no problem with you keeping the Ministry informed, I believe the Board should have been immediately informed of the information you had received – the Board is not an afterthought, it is a legally responsible part of the processes that ought to have been followed.
Following your first provision of information to the Board about the CEO’s expenses issue in July this year, the process being followed has not been made clear at several steps, until myself and other Board members have asked questions and requested responses.

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