19 Dec 2020

Former health minister heads southern health board

2:10 pm on 19 December 2020

By Mike Houlahan of Otago Daily Times

The shoe is about to be on the other foot for Pete Hodgson.

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Pete Hodgson(centre) in 2004, when he was a government minister, meeting President of the Republic of Chile Ricardo Lagos, with Steve Maharey and Stuart McCutcheon. Photo: AFP

Once, as health minister, he had health board chairpeople reporting to him. Now he will be reporting to the minister as the new chairperson of the Southern District Health Board (SDHB).

Former SDHB chairperson and Dunedin mayor Dave Cull's short term at the head of the organisation was cut short in October by the discovery of a tumour on his pancreas.

Hodgson is the former Dunedin North MP and was head of Southern Partnership Group, the organisation steering the building of the new Dunedin Hospital.

He paid tribute to Cull for his time at the SDHB, and wished him and his family all the best.

"I'm honoured to be following in Dave Cull's footsteps but wish it was not in this manner," Hodgson said.

A recently released Cabinet paper revealed that the Government intended to scrap the partnership group and set up a new system to oversee the hospital project.

The Government said it wanted the SDHB to undergo a "transformation programme" to be better equipped to manage the new hospital when it opened.

Hodgson said beginning that work was his immediate priority as chairperson.

"The organisation needs to undergo some changes so that it can best use the new facility when it does open.

"The DHB also has changes underway, which I will be wanting it to focus on a lot more, on things like valuing patients' time and so on, most of them backed by good quality digital technology, and all of them capable of delivering more for the same."

Health Minister Andrew Little said he was pleased Hodgson had accepted the role.

"Pete's made a tremendous contribution to New Zealand's health services over many years including as health minister, and has done a fantastic job steering the new Dunedin Hospital project through its key early phases as head of the Southern Partnership Group."

Hodgson will remain a member of the local advisory group assisting the hospital rebuild.

- This story first appeared in the Otago Daily Times

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