Kevin Atkinson has been appointed chair of the Hawke’s Bay DHB by Health Minister Tony Ryall.

That’s terrific news for those who believe the point of having elected DHB’s is to ensure some measure of accountability to the community. Having an elected chairman — especially one who rolls up his shirtsleeves, intelligently questions the DHB bureaucracy, and welcomes interaction with the public, all Atkinson trademarks — will make a big difference in terms of DHB responsiveness.

Interestingly, our DHB is one of only five in the country (out of twenty DHB’s) where Ryall appointed an elected member as chair. Ryall has been quite outspoken about the DHB’s requiring top echelon leadership going forward. His action is a real credit to Atkinson, made all the more rewarding given the sorry “interruption” in DHB democracy in Hawke’s Bay.

Ryall also appointed Ngahiwi Tomoana as deputy chair … another endorsement of local leadership for our DHB. Hopefully that’s a signal that the Minister wants more attention paid to the health care needs of Maori in HB.

Congratulations to both!

Tom Belford

Addendum: Mayor Barbara Arnott, HB businessman Dan Druzianic, and Wairoa deputy mayor Denise Eaglesome were also appointed to the Board. Here’s the DHB’s media release.

Join the Conversation


  1. Great to see Kevin’s back in! There is no better person to take on the mantle. Kevin’s HB through and through. He will lead and inspire the board and staff and will represent the health interests of the Bay strongly.
    With over 10,000 votes – there would have been an uproar if he had not been appointed as chair.

  2. I, like many others, will judge Mr Atkinson on his handling of the Cranford Hospice situation. Nobody from the DHB has addressed the many concerns arising from the PSEC/DHB botched handling of this affair.

  3. Tom, I was under the impression that you applied under the Official Information Act for this information. How’s that going?

  4. My understanding of the demise of Cranford was that PSEC implanted a man with an agenda.This same man lacked the skills to impliment/share a ‘vision’ that surely should have encompassed the skills of Drs/phamacists/therapists and nurses on staff, and assisted these same people to upskill in a safe/supportive enviroment.

    The DHB main roll in this sorrowful debacle was to slash their deficit. Not optimum care of the sick and dying.

  5. Anna why would you think DHB chairman of the Board could 'fix' Cranford past/on-going staffing issues, when PSEC new management structure has done nil to 'fix' what was fundimentally their poor management of change management in the past.

    DHB was reactive I believe to issues from within Presbyterian Support.PSEC is ultimately responsible for the loss of skill from Cranford Hospice.

  6. Like Anna Banugo, I sincerely hope that Mr Atkinson looks quickly into the Cranford Hospice situation, as if he decides to overlook this major, still simmering issue, it might be his first nightmare/mistake of his reinstatement.

    Don't be complacent Mr Atkinson by the attitude of Mr Snee with regards to this matter. Look for the real issues and truths, talk to the effected parties. If it is true and you are a leader that “Roles up your Sleeves” and “truly cares for your community”, your immediate intervention with this matter will help bring this festering situation to a conclusion for all the effected ex/current staff and community alike.

  7. Sorry Sally. I stated that I would judge Mr Atkinson on how he handles the Cranford Hospice situation.

    I confess that I do not hold out much hope that the DHB will deal effectively with these issues. Frankly the governance in Hawkes Bay (in all forums) is wanting.

    The idea that Mr Atkinson can (or wants to) deal with his errant executive is more one of hope than reality.

    I suspect ultimately the truth will be outed in the press by Cranford's ardent supporters.

  8. Let's be clear here, although PSEC stuffed up and brought Cranford to its knees, it was Mr Snee and the DHB who stepped in and made the big decision to close the place and clear out the nursing staff i.e. the same nurses who were essentially responsible for creating Cranford's fantastic brand over a 30 year period. Unfortunately the nurses positive contribution during that time was lost in the process somehow.

    The DHB used the final TAS Report to justify its decision to close Cranford's inpatient unit. From what I have been told, despite a number of requests, the DHB has refused to disclose the "draft" TAS Report that it/PSEC received weeks before disclosing the final report for the purpose of "correcting a few errors".

    Mr Atkinson may want to start his new tenure by asking Mr Snee why he won't disclose the draft report. Does it have anything to do with the fact that it is considerably more damning of Cranford management than the final report?

    For those who have been following Baybuzz, you will recall reading the articles Tom Belford wrote on the government's removal of the HBDHB a few years ago. Mr Atkinson might want to think back and remember how it felt like to be the subject of a "draft" report which Mr Cunniliffe had the opportunity of …"correcting a few errors" in before it was published in its final form.

    The 17 very good nurses who lost their jobs are still suffering Mr Atkinson. As a supporter of those nurses, I urge you to ask a few hard questions and find out the real reasons why Cranford crumbled.

  9. Anyone here appreciate the irony of Mr Snee "..handing over the Angel of Cranford…" to Mr Gilligan?

    How many staff "..disestablished.."?

    What substantive managements have been made to management structures?

    Can they inform us in detail of what the "..change management.." consultants actually did? How much did they cost?

    What about the original audit report, has anyone seen it?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.