6 Oct 2017

Waikato DHB chair was warned about CEO

10:49 am on 6 October 2017

The Chair of the Waikato District Health Board is under pressure to step down following the chief executive's resignation for overspending.

Waikato District Health Board Chief Executive Dr Nigel Murray.

Waikato District Health Board Chief Executive Dr Nigel Murray. Photo: RNZ/ Joanne O'Brien

Dr Nigel Murray resigned yesterday after an independent inquiry found that he spent more than the agreed $25,000 for relocation costs.

There were also other unauthorised expenses involving potential financial breaches of his obligations.

Executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Ian Powell, said senior doctors were worried about Dr Murray's autocratic leadership style before he was appointed.

They warned board chair Bob Simcock, Dr Powell said.

"Given that the board chair was alerted to the serious concerns about Nigel Murray in his past performance, prior to being appointed to the position, but chose to disregard them makes the credibility of him in that role untenable."

Better vetting of potential candidates was needed, he said.

"If we're going to have the kind of due diligence that happened in the previous process for the next process of appointing a new chief executive, God help us.

"It's inviting Captain Pugwash to put his hand up and say, 'I'll give this a go', and have a likelihood of being appointed."

Dr Powell said the performance of DHB chief executives overall had been patchy, which he partly blamed on government underfunding.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party is demanding the Waikato District Health Board release a report into the chief executive's overspending.

The DHB said the findings will not be released publicly.

But Labour Party Health spokesperson David Clark said the board must reveal where it went wrong.

"It's incumbent upon the chair and the board to release as much information as they can to give the public confidence that they have improved their processes as a consequence of what's happened

and it should also be clear from the material they release where mistakes were made so that those mistakes are not repeated."

Audit New Zealand is carrying out a separate inquiry into the Waikato DHB's processes to see if they need to be improved.