Reaction to DHB Report

There are numerous stories in the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board report.

First the main Herald story by Paula Oliver:

But it is what was missing from the report which will be the subject of ongoing argument.

The review did not canvas questions of whether former Health Minister should have appointed Mr Hausmann to the board.

The panel decided that topic was out of the scope of its report.

The report also did not delve into allegations that the board’s chief executive Chris Clarke colluded with Mr Hausmann over a contract.

The treatment of the whistleblower drew attention to the conflict also was not canvassed in the report.

Yep, it all comes down to the terms of reference.  This is how the Ingram Report found Field had done no wrong, yet the Police have laid dozens of charges against him. Ingram was only allowed to look into Field’s actions as a Minister. Likewise this report was not allowed to cover Annette King’s actions or the actions of management.

John Armstrong writes the report vindicates David Cunliffe’s decision to sack the Board:

Health Minister professes to be satisfied with the damning findings of the independent review of Hawkes Bay’s troubled district health board.

Satisfied? Cunliffe should be satisfied – deliriously so. If his Beehive office were not so cramped he would have been excused performing cartwheels across it.

But he notes:

While Cunliffe can claim to have been vindicated, King, however, cannot claim to have been cleared by the report in terms of the wisdom of appointing Hausmann to the board.

Determining that it was outside the scope of its terms of reference, the panel rejected the board’s request to examine King’s role.

Marty Sharpe in the Dom Post focuses on the former Chair, KevinAtkinson, calling it a whitewash:

Kevin Atkinson, sacked with the rest of the board last month, says the “weasel word” report is a “whitewash in every sense of the word”. He urges the auditor-general to investigate.

But Health Minister says the report, which criticises the board for failing to meet basic conflict of interest procedures and highlights major rifts with senior management, justifies his decision to sack it.

There certainly was a rift with senior management. But if I was a director and my senior management had been secretly taping conversations, improperly allowing a fellow director preferred access to RFP details, not implementing board decisions etc then I might have a rift also.  Whose fault the rift is, is something that was out of bounds for the report as management were excluded. The Auditor-General is his report on one contract found much to criticise.

NZPA reports today that the Minister denies any political interference with the report, and that there is more information to come out.

Finally the Dom Post editorial says the report misses the big picture:

The report makes no comment on the wisdom of former health minister appointing Mr Hausmann, the managing director of a company with significant interests in the health sector to the board, no comment on the wisdom of board staff giving Mr Hausmann a tender document ahead of rival bidders for a district health board contract and no comment on the appropriateness of the board’s former chief operating officer Ray Lind, Mrs King’s husband and now an employee of Mr Hausmann’s company, secretly recording a meeting with the whistleblower first questioned the appropriateness of an e-mail from Mr Hausmann to a staff member.

Mr Wilson says that is because the focus of the review was governance. But given the disquiet created by the sacking of the board just 72 days after it was elected, the existence of a substantially different draft report, the contents of which the National Party has begun dripfeeding in Parliament but which The has been prevented from reporting by lawyers acting on behalf of the director-general of health and Mr Hausmann, and the relatively narrow focus of the inquiry, the report will not be the end of the matter.

The board was clearly remiss in its handling of conflicts of interests. Quite possibly it deserved to be dismissed. But the wider question of whether or not Mr Hausmann should ever have been appointed to the board has not been addressed. Nor has management’s role in the debacle.

The region has been poorly served by the board, board staff and government ministers.The only beneficiaries are the National MPs campaigning to retain the and Tukituki electorates later this year.

Indeed it is far from over. The number of unanswered questions remains high.

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