The Minister of Health’s announcement to appoint a new chair to the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board has come as a surprise and with some disappointment, especially given he had personally asked me to stand again with his confidence to continue in my role as chair.
I had intended retiring at the end of the current term this year. However due to five long serving Board members confirming their retirement at the end of this term, and our CEO Kevin Snee resigning in August, I was asked by several senior Board members to consider a further term.
On 14 August, two days before nominations closed, I discussed the situation with the Minister and advised him that I would be prepared to stand again if I had his confidence to be reappointed Chair if I was re-elected. The Minister’s reply was that he would like me to stand again.
On the basis of that conversation I stood again for election, nominated by DHB board members, Barbara Arnott and Dan Druzianic and I was overwhelmed by the support and confidence of the Hawke’s Bay’s community who re-elected me.
Following the election, in my ongoing role as chairman, I have kept the Ministry of Health (MoH) informed of the skill mix of the six other members, who were also elected in October. I also advised the MoH of the additional skills and geographic representation that needed to be considered as part of the appointment process. I was particularly concerned that Napier needed representation on the new board.
However, I have had no contact with the MOH or Minister subsequent to giving that advice.
On Thursday I received a phone call from the Minister advising that I have not been re-appointed chairman, for the next three-year term. He did acknowledge our August 14 conversation and that he had given me his support for chairman back then, however he told me that subsequently cabinet requested “fresh faces”.
I will consider my future on the Board over coming months, however as I was strongly supported by the community in the recent election my feeling at this time is to serve the next three years as a Board member and continue to work to improving the infrastructure and health services delivered to the Hawke’s Bay community.
Kevin Atkinson MNZM, CFInstD, FNZIM, CITPNZ