Bill Ralston thinks National hasn’t done a good enough job with the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board sacking, and that what happened there is a bigger scandal than anything to do with Owen Glenn. He paints a nice succinct picture:
A wee while back, Annette King was Minister of Health. Her husband, Ray Lind, was the chief operating officer of the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.
Against the wishes of many on the health board, King appoints Peter Hausmann to the board. Hausmann runs a company called Healthcare New Zealand and many on the board fretted that he, as a supplier to health boards, would have a conflict of interest as a board member. King appointed him anyway.
It is still a mystery to many why King insisted on appointing someone who would be so conflicted. Was there no one else?
In a very short time, the chairman of the board discovered Hausmann was involved in email discussions over a tender for a multi-million-dollar contract from the board he was a member of.
Which he had promised he would not do.
A woman whistleblower in the board’s administration brings this to the chairman’s attention.
She alleges Annette King’s husband, Ray Lind, as a senior manager put pressure on her because she blew the whistle. She ends up being restructured out of her job and an employment dispute ensues.
And don’t forget the secret taping on conversations. Also do not forget the DHB CEO is a former staffer for Helen Clark.
Meanwhile, Ray Lind quits and goes to work for Hausmann.
And as the inquiry goes on, Hausmann I think tried to bill the Board $500,000 or so for his legal fees.
Flak flies, King is reshuffled out of the portfolio, her successor dithers about sorting out the rolling brawl between the board and its managers over various contracts being awarded, and the people of Hawke’s Bay respond by backing the chairman and his board supporters by resoundingly re-electing them.
Normally the good people of Hawke’s Bay will disagree on whether the week starts on a Saturday or a Monday, plus every other issue known to man. One should not under-estimate how rare it is to be able to unite every local body in the region against you (for sacking the board).
An inquiry into the murky goings on at the DHB rumbles away while there is yet another cabinet reshuffle and two-gun David Cunliffe takes over the job and refuses to confirm the chairman in his job.
Then, just 72 days after the re-elected board takes office, Cunliffe sacks them. He says the organisation is “dysfunctional” and it has a “rapidly deteriorating” financial situation. Actually, it’s only $7.7 million in the red, within its target range of coming out plus or minus 1 per cent of its revenue. David Cunliffe might not have noticed, but there is not a DHB in the country that hasn’t had financial problems and the Hawke’s Bay board’s problem is minor.
Indeed it is not clear at all why this Board was sacked when there are other boards who deserve sacking more. There was no intermediate step taken such as a Crown Monitor. And also unknown is how many of the problems were caused by the Government’s own review taking so long to resolve, and the failure to confirm the Chair.
Cunliffe whinged to me that the board had publicly criticised him and the Health Ministry. Diddums. When you are in politics sometimes people have a go at you.
And he had attacked them publicly. It must be a new rule that criticism can only be made public in one direction.
He accused the board of having a dysfunctional relationship with its management. Hell, if the management had been getting up to half the shenanigans the board alleges, no wonder the place was dysfunctional.
The concept of allowing staff to choose their governors is a new one for me.
Cunliffe added another reason for sacking the board was that hospital clinicians were critical of it. When are doctors ever happy with their DHB? Besides, only two out of 120 clinicians at the DHB have ever publicly had a go at the board and one of those has since quit.
And the local head of the doctor’s union publicly backed the Board Chair. This is very unusual for a union head.
Sorry, David Cunliffe sacked the democratically elected Hawke’s Bay DHB because it was causing his Government grief and the board was exposing something rotten that began with the disastrous mistakes of Annette King.
One has to ask once again, why appoint someone to a board who you know is about to have a major conflict of interest with that board?