The Waikato District Health Board has backed its incoming
chief executive, saying he comes with "outstanding" references.
New Zealander Dr Nigel Murray will take up his new role at
Waikato DHB on Monday, in the wake of a newly released report
which showed he was in charge of one of the worst-performing
Canadian health authorities. Doctors here have also
questioned his leadership style over his past role heading
Dr Murray announced he was quitting his job as head of the
Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia and returning to
New Zealand shortly before the Canadian government-ordered
review was due to be released.
The review found several Fraser Health Authority hospitals
had some of the worst results in Canada on various measures
of patient safety and quality of care.
Labour's health spokeswoman Annette King yesterday branded
the report "damning".
But Bob Simcock, chairman of the Waikato board, said it had
been assured of Dr Murray's competence following an
"extensive international search" for a new CEO.
"We were aware of the review and so we took particular point
to raise that issue with both the chair and the ministry of
health up there. As far as the ministry was concerned it
didn't raise issues of performance relating to Nigel and they
thought he'd done a good job at Fraser.
"That with all the other references we'd got, which were all
extremely positive, leads me to have confidence that he's
going to do the job we want."
He said the references "universally describe him in
"I could not have expected as strong references as we got,"
Mr Simcock said. "We expect Nigel to perform to the level of
He admitted Dr Murray was taking up the role at a "shift
time", in which the DHB was facing a number of issues.
"I've spoken to him and he's very keen to get here and get on
with the job. It's a major step for us."
Dr Murray was announced as the new CEO of Waikato DHB last
month, amid speculation he had already secured the job before
the hiring process was complete.
Mr Simcock said such inferences were "nonsense" and had "no
After Dr Murray resigned from Fraser Health because it had
become public that he had applied for the Waikato job "he
called me and I said, 'well we can't make a commitment to
you, we haven't finished our reference checking'. He said, 'I
know, that's fine, I've been offered another job"', Mr
The board had also investigated concerns raised by the
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists -- which
described Dr Murray as a "polarising" leader and earlier
called on the DHB to "put the brakes" on hiring him -- and
said they were all "totally unfounded".
Yesterday, a Waikato DHB spokeswoman said she was unable to
put media in touch with Dr Murray for interviews as he was
still in Canada.
However, Mr Simcock said he had spoken to Dr Murray yesterday
morning, and was of the view that he would not be speaking to
media regarding the review as he had not done so in Canada.
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ