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Rambo Attacks On Doctors; Crisis Of Confidence

MONDAY 26 AUGUST 2002

“Health Minister Should Disassociate Government From Appointee’s Rambo Attacks On Doctors; Crisis Of Confidence Caused”

“Health Minister Annette King should quickly disassociate the government from her appointed chairperson of the Auckland District Health Board, Wayne Brown, for his Rambo-style attacks on doctors,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell was responding to Mr Brown’s attacks on doctors, both resident and senior, that were repeated most recently on TVNZ’s Sunday programme last night.

“On the one hand, the Health Minister often genuinely praises the professionalism and dedication of doctors but, on the other hand, her most senior appointee in a district health board dramatically contradicts her with his contemptuous disdain of them. The longer this extraordinary contradiction continues the more Wayne Brown’s red-neck prejudices will be seen by doctors as the real voice of government. Mr Brown is putting his foot in the government’s mouth.”

“Mr Brown’s prejudices are an historical throw-back to the worst excesses of dictatorial health management of the early 1990s when the former National government started its failed attempt to commercialise public hospitals. This macho maniac control style of leadership failed then and will fail again. It has no place in a modern health system.”

“The government hoped that Mr Brown would sort out its serious concerns with the senior management of the Auckland District Health Board. We also shared these serious concerns and this hope. But unfortunately Mr Brown’s ‘Midas touch’ in reverse has meant that senior management has become more autocratic and more dismissive of concerns of doctors about dictatorial decisions that threaten standards of patient care.”

“Mr Brown was appointed to be part of the solution to the serious problems in Auckland but has only succeeded in becoming part of the problem and left senior management off the hook.”

“The government owes a major debt to the doctors in Auckland. It has only been doctors, along with nurses and other health professionals, who have held patient services together and maintained quality despite a very autocratic, ineffective and unpleasant environment. They do not need to be ‘crapped on’ by a seagull leadership style.”

“Mr Brown has made a serious situation worse, something that we had thought was impossible. He has now created a crisis of confidence among doctors over the future of health services in Auckland. By behaving like a back-seat general without any understanding of what it is like in the front-line, he has severely demoralised the foot soldiers that the government depends on.”

“Expecting Mr Brown with all his anti-doctor prejudices to lead the largest district health board in the country is like expecting Rambo to head up a charm school. It is time that the government considered appointing a new chairperson of the board who respects doctors rather than treats them with contempt and who does not misrepresent the government’s own attitudes,” concluded Mr Powell.

Ends


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