Mike's Minute: Nigel Murray fiasco shows DHB's must be rebooted

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Friday, 23 March 2018, 8:55a.m.

The State Service Commission report lays bare the cluster that was the Waikato DHB's handling of Nigel Murray, the former CEO who ran off with the money, didn't turn up to work a lot, and generally behaved like a reprobate not a boss. And the reaction to the report tells you how it happened.

Bob Simcock, a former National MP turned chair of the board, took a hell of a long time to fall on his sword over all this and as of yesterday he's still whinging, labelling himself a scapegoat. I'm not sure just what it is you expect when you become a board chair, but I would have thought in exchange for the stipend and kudos, you'd actually have to take a level of responsibility.

READ MORE: Disgraced Nigel Murray had lost earlier job - and no one checked

It is as clear as day in the report that the appropriate checks and balances were not taken in the hiring of Nigel Murray.

He was trouble, Simcock was told he was trouble, Simcock didn't make enough calls to confirm he was trouble. If he had, he would have seen how bad it all was.

The other player in this, Murray himself, is still busy through his lawyer, moaning about money and access to paperwork around the report. So you can see here the two main players. After all the carnage, the heartache, the shambles and chaos that's been laid bare. Instead of manning up, owning it, apologising and moving on, they are like 5-year-olds hard done by mum, stamping their feet and pleading for absolution.

Of course I would argue, as indeed do others still involved in Waikato Health, that Simcock should not have been the only one quitting. This is where Jonathon Coleman, fresh from a resignation himself yesterday, and the current Health Minister David Clark come into the whole sordid affair.

Why weren't they in there sacking people left right and centre? Having busied themselves defending this fiasco of a system, these 20 boards of clearly a large selection of hangers-on and freebie riders. Why, when the whole thing is imploding in front of their eyes, are they hands off? It seems a job on a board is viewed as some sort of paid holiday or siesta. where any accountability is secondary to the pay and perks.

So once again, I make the plea. If we had four health boards and not 20, is it not entirely possible the quality of those board members might be a little higher, a little more rigorous, a little more accountable?

If there were a few more professional appointments as opposed to community do-gooders, could we not expect greater transparency and a better outcome? And should things go wrong, a little less whining?

If nothing else comes out of the whole Murray fiasco, surely, surely, surely, it is all the evidence you need that the top heavy, bureaucratically ladened "20 times over" shambles we call public health is ripe for demolition and a reboot?

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