5 Aug 2010

Pressure to cut costs behind DHB resignation - union

6:33 pm on 5 August 2010

The union representing senior doctors says intense political pressure to cut costs is behind the resignation of Wellington DHB boss Ken Whelan.

The chief executive of Capital & Coast Health District Health Board delivered his resignation to the board on Wednesday after two-and-a-half years in the role.

In a statement to staff, Mr Whelan cited a recent health scare and the continual financial pressures on the district health board as reasons for his resignation.

Mr Whelan says he is unable to find any more efficiencies within Capital & Coast Health DHB without having a negative impact on services.

The executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Ian Powell, says Mr Whelan's resignation represents a very black day for the DHB.

"He's frustrated because of the continual pressure to make cuts and the very firm belief, which senior doctors at Wellington Hospital would endorse, is that further cuts will compromise patient services."

Mr Powell told Checkpoint the health board has one of the highest deficits in New Zealand, but that is because of the recent redevelopment of Wellington Hospital.

He says while the DHB is repaying that cost, it is being squeezed by a reduction in the rate of increased health spending.

Board chair Sir John Anderson says he has accepted the resignation with regret.

Sir John says Mr Whelan has made a real difference and has put the organisation on a very positive track towards a sustainable health service.

Mr Whelan will leave his job in September.