DHB senior managers settling in

Hoping to make positive changes at the Southern District Health Board are (from left) finance,...
Hoping to make positive changes at the Southern District Health Board are (from left) finance, procurement, and facilities executive director Julie Rickman, specialist services executive director Patrick Ng, and strategy, primary and community directorate executive director Lisa Gestro. Photo: Gregor Richardson
After a string of departures from the troubled organisation, new senior managers are settling in at the Southern District Health Board.

The jobs used to be called head of planning and funding, chief financial officer, and chief operating officer, but have been given new names. Strategy, primary and community directorate executive director Lisa Gestro said the board was no longer an "unreachable bureaucracy".

Mrs Gestro is in charge of contracts and relationships with entities that receive DHB funding to provide services in the community.

Hit by cuts while the DHB talked about shifting more funding to the community, the sector became disillusioned in recent years, although few providers could say so publicly because of the DHB’s powerful funding role. When asked about those concerns, Mrs Gestro said the board had changed.  A new community care strategy would lead to more investment, including in older people and mental health.

There would be better communication with providers.

This time, the board would follow through on what it said.

"I think this is by far the closest that we’ve gotten to being genuine, and the fact that we’ve now amended a structure to reflect that language.

"Genuinely, I would like to think we’re not that traditional funder, unreachable bureaucracy that we once were.

"I fully appreciate that that’s been said before. The only way we’re going to make this meaningful for you is if we actually deliver it.

"The planning and the resulting funding needs to be much more whole-of-system so that we’re having one conversation with primary and secondary," Mrs Gestro said.

Mrs Gestro, who started in September, was most recently employed by the ACC, and has worked at Counties Manukau DHB. She replaced Sandra Boardman, who left last year.

Specialist services executive director Patrick Ng took over from long-serving chief operating officer Lexie O’Shea, who departed last year amid the high-level restructuring.

Mr Ng’s previous job was at Nelson Marlborough DHB, where he worked with chief executive Chris Fleming, before Mr Fleming left to take the top job at the Southern DHB.

His job mainly involves overseeing the two main hospitals, Dunedin and Southland Hospitals. He looked forward to the challenge of overseeing a large hospital system, Mr Ng said.

Asked if he considered the board’s troubled reputation before joining it, he said he "wasn’t driven by whether there was a good reputation or a bad reputation".

The new finance head, Julie Rickman, would say little about the Southern DHB’s longstanding financial problems, pointing out in an interview last month she was only five weeks into the job.

Ms Rickman, a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said she took the role partly because there were few of that size and scope in Dunedin. There had been speculation in the health sector it would be hard to attract someone to the role, which did not surprise her.

"I’m sure people would say that, and my view is quite simply I want to be in Dunedin — that’s home for me.

"I have a commitment to this region.‘‘Part of that is bringing together a great finance team and delivering what this community deserves," Ms Rickman said.

She took over from Clive Smith, who departed last year after the restructuring, in which the role was renamed finance, procurement and facilities executive director.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

Comments

If the line was a quote, then I am sure these people aren't the only ones hoping they make some positive changes. just let's not have change for changes sake.

It always concerns me when CEO's bring in people from their previous organisations. I hope Mr Ng delivers such a great performance any sniff of "jobs for mates" is expunged.