Thursday is a public meeting of what is euphemistically called the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board. Actually, it’s a meeting of the “Healthcare Services Advisory Committee” set up by Commissioner Sir John Anderson as a faux board, followed by Sir John’s “Commissioner’s Meeting.”

I’m fascinated that Sir John can do so many jobs at once, now adding to his diverse portfolio an inquiry into how much TVNZ knew about the Tony Veitch affair. DHB CEO Chris Clarke assures us that Sir John can handle his multiple assignments and still do justice to Hawke’s Bay as our health czar. Perhaps we should call him Sir Super John.

Some interesting items in the briefing papers …

Just when some might be beginning to believe the elected board had bungled DHB finances, the year-end financial report to be delivered Thursday says this, describing an “operational unfavourable variance” of $2,703k:

“The major drivers of the full year unfavourable variances are:

• Additional medical and nursing personnel costs due to meeting increased demand, covering variances and enhanced patient safety/quality/compliance issues.

• Additional outsourced clinical services costs for radiology reporting, laboratory tests sent to reference laboratories, ACC procedures and the contracting out of some elective surgery to meet DHB and MOH targets and initiatives.

• Unanticipated increases in both demand and prices for patient travel and accommodation for both inpatients (inter-hospital transfers) and outpatients (national travel and accommodation policy).

…Given the risks and variables involved in providing health services in the current social environment, and in Hawke’s Bay in particular, with a tightly constrained budget with no contingencies or balancing mechanisms and limited opportunity for “easy savings/ efficiencies” (given the focus on these over the past four years), the above operational result can actually be viewed as being quite good. The variance of $2,703k is 1.39% of total revenue.”

Huh? Didn’t Cunliffe fire the Board for financial mismanagement?

And in his report for the meeting, CEO Clarke rebukes “media comment” on the possible consolidation of certain clinical services across DHBs, which sparked cries of dismay from some HB elected officials. Says Clarke:

“The Plan has at its heart a very simple proposition – it is better to work together and share resources than compete among DHBs for increasingly scarce resources. It makes for good patient care and good resource use and it reflects a direction of travel that is already underway with clinical networks established for mental health, cancer and cardiology services. The so called ‘secret’ Plan has been developed with considerable clinical input and a very transparent process. The former Board, and now Commission, have been receiving monthly updates on progress and all information, including the draft Plan, has been available on the Regional Clinical Services website ( since October last year. I will be bringing the next draft of the Regional Clinical Services Plan to our August Commission meeting. At that meeting you will be asked to receive the Plan and indicate your support for the ongoing development of clinical networks and greater sharing and collaboration between DHBs.”

Take that Mayor Arnott!

I’m wondering … given the indignation of local National and National-leaning politicians on DHB matters, will we see a delegation of them at the Thursday public meeting protecting our interests?


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1 Comment

  1. Regarding your last comment:

    " local National and National-leaning politicians on DHB matters, will we see a delegation of them at the Thursday public meeting protecting our interests? "

    In particular will we see Mayor Arnott, who was going to spend a large amount of unauthorised ratepayer money on legal action upon the sacking of the board. Or maybe Mayor Yule?

    Well maybe not, they are too busy packing their bags to go to China to do a suck-up for 'business/trade/free trade purposes!

    One can only hope they take a 'slow boat to China" cos the only thing they will bring back is "Chinese Junk". [ a modern version of 1960's Jap Krap].

    I hope while they are in China they discover some of the 23 million, mainly young women, working as virtual slaves in factories producing cheap consumer trinkets- or maybe look at the polution oif the land,water and air – or maybe take a peek inside a detention centre where Monks are being held in case of possible protests at the Olympic games – or go look at the Monasteries near the Tibet boarder; now almost empty.

    Maybe then they may realise the importance of the concept of FAIR TRADE and how the WTO, the world Bank, powerful multi-national corporations, the rich family cartels etc are no better than the slavery of the United states southern states producing cotton etc. It took a civil war to end that [well the start of the end].

    I would not expect many of those who Squealed like stuck-pigs when the DH board was sacked to be at Thursdays meeting.

    Keep up the good work Tom -its nice to have a soap box.


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