Labour’s neutral public service

often goes on and on about the need for a neutral public service. He gets all pious at minor issues such as funding of purchase advisors. So it is interesting to see him make such a partisan attack on the new Director-General of Health:

Tony’s new man says fewer doctors and nurses ok

Grant knows the Minister does not appoint the Director-General – the SSC does. But he is already trying to undermine Dr .

After reportedly failing to convince 19 people who were shoulder tapped for the job

Then we have what can only be called a blatant lie. This makes Dr Woods appointment sounds like a desperate appointment of someone unqualified. In fact Dr Woods currently runs a health system 25% bigger than New Zealand’s.

I dont know much about Dr Woods yet, but first impressions are not great.  According to the Dom Post he oversaw the axing of 1500 nursing positions during his tenure in Scotland.

The Director-General of Health doesn’t decide funding levels – Governments and Health Boards do.

In NZ 600 new Police have been or are being recruited. This is not due to a decision by the Police Commissioner – it was the decision of the Govt to provide funding for additional officers.

Grant then quotes the Dom Post:

At the time, he was asked by a Government committee whether it was possible to still provide quality health services with “significantly fewer” doctors and nurses. “Yes, we believe we can,” Dr Woods said.

and Grant comments:

Oh dear. A transfer of Dr Woods idea to New Zealand would have disastrous consequences.

Now it is Dr Woods’ idea, as if Dr Woods is actively this for New Zealand.

His answer to a Government committee was in relation to a specific health service and a specific set of facts. There are most certainly scenerios where one can say “Yes we can provide quality health services” with fewer doctors or nurses. This may be due to investment in technology or a reduction in bureaucracy which allows medical professionals to spend more time with patients, and less time on paperwork.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’d be nervous if the Government was saying we want fewer doctors and nurses – as I believe the current health system is stretched when it comes to medical professionals. In fact the Government has been reducing the number of bureaucrats, so that more money can go on doctors and nurses – a move which incidentally Grant and Labour has strongly opposed.

It is a shame Grant is taking cheap shots at the new Director-General before he has even started the job.

The word in Wellington is that the previous CE, Stephen McKernan left because he  could not work with Tony Ryall and Murray Horn at the National Health Board as they shut him out while pursuing their agenda of cuts

When Grant says the word in Wellington, it means this is the line he pushes in Wellington. Stephen McKernan has denied this allegation incidentially.

It seems possible that they may have now found a willing accomplice.

And another undermining of Dr Woods, before he even starts.

Now Grant is not the only opposition politician to do this. Helen Clark (ironically) attacked Mark Prebble’s appointment to DPMC in the 1990s, and I am sure some Nats have done so.

But Grant does go on very earnestly about public sector neutrality.  His blogged comments suggest he is a case of do as I say, not do as I do.

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