6 Aug 2014

Search for 'pivotal' health role delayed

10:18 am on 6 August 2014

A long international search for the next head of the Health Ministry is being put on the back burner until after the election.

The State Services Commission said the role, which carries a salary of about $550,000 a year, was pivotal and it has decided not to advance the search in the next seven weeks.

Kevin Woods: leaving after three years in the job.

Kevin Woods Photo: RNZ

The former director-general of health, Kevin Woods, returned to Scotland last November.

The commission said a new health minister would be appointed regardless of the election outcome because the incumbent, Tony Ryall, was leaving politics. It said the new minister's priorities for the director-general of health would need to be taken into account.

Labour's health spokesperson, Annette King, said that was appropriate and that she understood there were differences between the incumbent minister and the commission over the appointment.

"It got to a point where they couldn't appoint anyway and it wasn't appropriate for a retiring minister to be responsible for appointment of a new director-general," she said.

"This is a very important appointment for whoever the next minister is."