Health Minister Tony Ryall has been accused of pressuring
the Southern District Health Board to discipline a Dunedin
medical specialist for speaking to the media.
Yesterday in Parliament, Green Party health spokesman Kevin
Hague questioned Mr Ryall about his involvement in taking Dr
John Chambers to task for commenting about Dunedin Hospital's
Mr Ryall denied any inappropriate involvement in a board's
He said board chairman Joe Butterfield raised the matter with
him, and was told it was a matter for the board to "deal
Mr Hague then asked Mr Ryall why he had put pressure on the
board through National Health Board chief adviser Yvonne
Bruorton, to which the minister replied: "I do not know what
the member is talking about".
Mr Ryall said he had, however, told the board it must resolve
"major issues" in the Dunedin ED.
Earlier this year, Dr Chambers was invited to put his case to
senior management as to why he should not receive a formal
first warning, greatly upsetting the Association of Salaried
Medical Specialists (ASMS), which saw it as the right of
senior doctors to speak to the press.
Dr Chambers spoke as a union representative when he was
quoted in the Otago Daily Times in the July article that
prompted the action.
The ODT understands Dr Chambers will not receive a
formal first warning, but that the parties are working
towards final resolution.
Neither the union, nor the board, are willing to comment on
Asked about the claims, chief executive Carole Heatly told
the ODT she had "absolutely not" been pressured to
take Dr Chambers to task.
It was a staffing matter, and entirely operational, she said.
When contacted, Mr Butterfield said he could not recall
exactly what discussion he had had with Mr Ryall about the
matter, but it would not have been "substantive".