Remember the wonderful talk which Ruth gave to the Tuesday Club a few short weeks ago. Well here is a letter she wrote last week to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health under the heading:
How can NZ have lost such an innovative team?
Firstly, can I say how much we all appreciate the amazing amount of work you have done on our behalf during COVID. It has been truly outstanding.
However, the loss of the most outstanding team of health administrators that I have ever worked alongside in the 43 years of being a doctor, grieves me greatly.
The government needs to appreciate that the deficit is earthquake related. The Chair of the Board, John Hansen, admitted that it was NOT operational when he spoke on the Tuesday Club. You cannot cut this amount of money out of a very efficiently run operation (as testified by 4 formal reports and lauded as very effective, efficient and innovative service by the UK based Kings Fund) without it impacting on patient safety.
John Hansen also put out in an email to all staff on 21.8.20 in relation to the cuts that were being demanded by the Crown Monitor/Board that ‘Figures of $90 million or more have been circulating which have also increased the level of uncertainty and disquiet across the organization.’ Likewise, he verbally denied this figure of $90 million when he spoke to the Tuesday Club. Yet the minutes of the Board Meeting of 16.7.20 confirm that the Crown Monitor was pushing for this figure which was when our CEO and many of the members of the Executive Team would have made the decision they could not undertake to do this and maintain safe patient care and so had to stand down.
It raises the question whether John Hansen had forgotten the discussion of the Board meeting.
Maybe David Meates’ team had shown up too many mistakes by the MOH – many if not most of which had occurred under a previous DG and Government – and this made too many powerful enemies. Ian Powell also points out that Lester Levy was on the Board of Health Benefits Ltd which quietly disappeared after David Meates in particular pointed out the flaws in its business cases and its philosophy.
Repeatedly we have heard from people who have interacted with both these people how adversarial the interactions were. The situation will deteriorate even further if people with these lack of people skills are allowed to continue to try to run the DHB. Collaboration and cooperation are how Canterbury has achieved so much in the last 10 years. Respect for each other and integrity are the values that we have lived by.
Please take the concerns of health professionals and the people of Canterbury generally, very seriously. The loss of David Meates and Carolyn Gullery is not just a loss to health in Canterbury but to the whole of NZ.
Ruth Spearing, MBChB, FRACP, FRCPA