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Crown Observer To Be Appointed To Health New Zealand

Hon Dr Shane Reti

Minister of Health

Health Minister Dr Shane Reti is appointing a Crown observer to Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora, citing significant ongoing challenges around the 2022 health reforms.

“I have carefully considered the hard work which has gone on around Health NZ since its establishment,” Dr Reti said.

“The incoming government is resetting a clear focus on health outcomes. The Labour government failed to acknowledge a health crisis and failed in its duty to provide adequate oversight and support during a period of massive upheaval for health.

“I am confident that the appointment of a Crown observer will assist the HNZ Board and management to work with the board to overcome a range of issues, including health workforce and hospital wait times.

“I am therefore appointing Ken Whelan as Crown observer to work with the Board to ensure it delivers the outcomes expected by the coalition government.

“Mr Whelan commences his role immediately, and will independently advise me through formal quarterly reporting, and other updates as necessary.

“He has more than 30 years of health care leadership experience and has previously served as a Crown monitor at Counties Manukau and Waikato DHBs.

“I want to reassure Health NZ staff that today’s appointment is not a reflection on their hard work for which all New Zealanders thank them. Mr Whelan’s role is to focus on the wider reform process and address a lack of oversight from the previous government.

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“His appointment will assist and support the board of Health NZ in refocusing on health outcomes.

“The health reforms were proclaimed by previous ministers as providing better health results for all New Zealanders but under the previous government have so far spent more money, achieved more bureaucracy and delivered little more than longer waiting lists, dire workforce shortages and worse outcomes,” Dr Reti says.


Editors notes:

  • Ken Whelan is a New Zealander with over 30 years of health care executive leadership experience in both New Zealand and Australia.
  • He began his health career as a nurse before going into management roles and his expertise has been applied in various health care settings, from secondary/tertiary providers to teaching facilities, with an emphasis on the importance of working with front line clinicians to ensure comprehensive patient care is provided.
  • He has previously been a Crown Monitor for Counties Manukau, Waikato and Bay of Plenty DHBs; Deputy Director General, System Purchasing and Performance for the New South Wales Department of Health; Chief Executive of Metro North Health and Hospital Service Queensland which is one of the largest health services in Australia.

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