Sooner or later the truth was going to emerge about the CDHB. You don’t lose 7 out of 11 of a top performing Executive Management team without the truth of just what happened finally emerging. Even with the pathetic manner in which the Ministry of Health (MOH) replies to Official Information Act enquiries (OIA) sooner or later the truth will emerge.
Well, it has already.
In the meticulously researched article below Ian Powell has laid out the journey by the MOH to rid the CDHB of its world class management team. He also analyses the role played by supposed business consultants.
Some years ago I met with a partner of one of the largest accounting practices in Christchurch. I raised my concerns about a public institution and he agreed with my analysis. Did his final report cover this glaring error in the financial reporting? Not on your nelly. Fees and future commissions rule the accounting profession too often these days, and one day this will come home to roost.
In the meantime, Government, Local and Central, will continue to perform a public hand washing exercise and appoint the big 4 to write the reports which suit their pre-determined course of action.
This article is so good I recommend that you read it from beginning to end. I will not attempt to summarise it other than to print some of the final conclusions. Here they are:
If the purpose of Ernst Young’s (EY’s) third report was a genuine endeavour and assessed as if it were a school examination, I would give it an E grade (and not paid the bill). If its purpose were to do a hatchet job on the senior management team, I would give it a C- grade because its flaws were obvious to those with experience in the health system.
Important questions are raised by this scandal. EY’s involvement through the influential Stephen McKernan (the person the Government is using to lead the Health Reforms) and its subsequent expansion into the health system raises the issue of conflict of interest. It is unlikely to be unlawful. However, it is sailing close to the wind (or worse) in respect of professional and ethical standards.
If, as it appears likely, EY becomes the health system’s required ‘business consultants of choice’ then it will be at the expense of the voice of clinical leadership in service design, configuration and delivery and fiscally irresponsible as a result.
Is the scandal due to the conduct of Levy, Hansen and Arrowsmith? Destructive politics sits behind them, whether bureaucratic or political. Levy and Hansen were handpicked to perform a task which they did. Arrowsmith had a wider DHB brief (not just CDHB). But her approach was consistent with what those above her required. Her appointment and acrimonious parting of ways weren’t because of the Canterbury scandal.
Shallow political governance
The scandal highlights the question of shallowness of political governance. Health Minister David Clark didn’t drive this scandal but was sufficiently gullible to allow it to unroll. His normally competent successor Chris Hipkins foolishly accepted Treasury advice on what was behind CDHB’s financial position which was based on the highly flawed EY hatchet report.
This leaves Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In the lead up to the 2017 election she was sharply critical of the Health Ministry’s behaviour towards DHBs. She now finds herself in the position of heading a government that in its name has seen unkind behaviour become even more unkind.