Minister 'seriously dissatisfied' with Waikato DHB, threatens to appoint commissioner

Health Minister Dr David Clark has told the Waikato District Health Board he's considering appointing a commissioner to replace board members because he's seriously dissatisfied with their performance.

Dr Clark says he's increasingly concerned by Waikato DHB’s deteriorating financial position, instability at a governance and leadership level, and ongoing performance issues.

The board has just over two weeks, until May 3, to respond before a final decision will be made.

Dr Clark says Waikato DHB's financial performance has continued to deteriorate. In 2017/18 the board reported a deficit of $37.2 million, and it's forecasting a $56.1 million deficit for 2018/19 with increasing deficit forecasts in future years.

Despite best efforts by a Crown monitor who was appointed in August 2018, there has been limited progress due to instability at the governance and leadership level, he says. 

“Concerns remain following the 2017 independent inquiry into the chief executive which led to the resignation of both the chair and the chief executive. Recent improvements have stalled with the board’s decision to put the chief executive recruitment on hold," Dr Clark said.

"There are also a number of ongoing service performance issues, as well as maintaining accreditation from professional clinical bodies. 

"This is symptomatic of wider problems related to an inefficient flow of patients through the hospital, and through primary care and rural hospitals," he said.

Dr Clark says he has made it clear to all DHBs that financial performance needs to improve and they need to demonstrate they have a pathway to return to financial sustainability. 

"I know it is challenging after years of underfunding, however New Zealanders deserve access to high quality services which deliver equitable outcomes."