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DHB Chief Executive unfair to scapegoat senior doctors

6 November 2017

DHB Chief Executive unfair to scapegoat senior doctors for situation out of their control

“The chief executive of Southern District Health Board is undermining his credibility by scapegoating senior doctors for a situation they have no control over,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).

He was responding to comments by Chris Fleming on delays in the DHB’s its cardiac surgery waiting lists. The Ministry of Health says an unacceptable number of patients are waiting beyond clinically appropriate timeframes – but the chief executive says senior doctors are to blame (

“It’s really disappointing that Chris Fleming is blaming senior doctors for this when the reality is that they’re working like the clappers to provide the best possible care for patients in run-down hospitals without enough money or staff. They’re already over-stretched and dealing with a 50% burnout rate across the senior specialist workforce, largely due to longstanding management neglect.

“His comments will severely damage his credibility with senior doctors. They also undermine our endeavours to work with him in turning around the toxic, disengaged leadership culture that he inherited at Southern DHB.”

Mr Powell says the targets cover just a small proportion of what public hospitals (ie, only those things that can be counted) compared, for example, with acute surgery.

“Acute surgery – you know, the operations that have to be done when a medical or other emergency of some kind arises – is often the cause of elective targets not being met. Targets are not an indication of how well a DHB is performing, which the chief executive should realise.

“ASMS welcomed Mr Fleming’s appointment as Chief Executive hoping that he would be part of the solution. Blaming doctors was what the previous leadership regime did. It is so disappointing that he is continuing this unfair tactic.”


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