Monday, 4 May 2009

new chair for WDHB

the waikato district health board has a new chair, mr graeme milne:

Mr Ryall said, "Mr Milne brings extensive management and governance experience to the board of the Waikato DHB.

Mr Milne is a company director and farmer based in Cambridge.

"He is currently director or chairman of several companies across the electricity, insurance, pharmaceutical, fertiliser and dairy sectors," Mr Ryall said.

so, we have a chair with considerable business experience - see here for a list of his current directorships and previous work history. he was also a former "fundraising, communications and marketing manager" of presbytarian support east coast, which would appear to be the only major experience he has with a not-for-profit organisation. the only experience that would be remotely related to the field of medicine is his position as chair of nz pharmaceuticals, an organisation which:

manufactures and exports pharmaceutical intermediates and diagnostics products for the world's leading pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies. It also produces a range of dietary supplements.

it bothers me that a person whose experience is predominantly in the commercial sector, and predominantly in the dairy industry, has been appointed to run our health board. we've had experience of the commercial model being used for public hospitals back in the 1990s, and it wasn't particularly nice. we had got to the stage where patients were having to pay to stay at a public hospital.

i don't believe a commercial model works for public health. i would prefer a board chair who has reasonable experience in the field of medicine, and preferably some previous history with a health board. mr milne is not one of the elected members of the health board, but is being brought in as a government appointee.

the board has a very experienced deputy chair in sally christie, who has been successfully elected three times by the people of this region. it would be interesting to find out why she was overlooked. she may have declined to take the position, but if not, she would have been ideal for the role.

also of interest is the fact that a previous chair with commercial experience, jerry rickman, resigned from the board earlier this year for perceived conflict of interest reasons.


Anonymous said...

When you say a reasonable experience in medicine, do you mean as a doctor, or just as an administrator of hospitals?

Anna said...

One of the stranger things about the neoliberal times we live in is that management is thought to be a generic skill which can be taken into any sector. There are good and bad things about this - but one of the bad things, I think, is that people with expertise in a particular sector can't as readily rise through the ranks and become a manager in that area. Actual sector knowledge doesn't count for much any longer.

One the stranger examples I saw of this was someone going from being CEO of the Blind Foundation to CEO of the NZRFU.

stargazer said...

i think my concern would be not so much the difference between two different industries in the commercial sector, but rather the difference between the commercial and not-for-profit sector. the skill sets are quite different, the mindset has to be different too. because in the latter case, outcomes are more important, and what is good for improving profit may not be good, for example, for improving the wellbeing of a community.

i've had experience of this with one of the not-for-profits i was involved with. it was very small scale, but showed that commercial experience does not provide you with the skills to run a not-for-profit organisation.

your point about people not being able to rise within the organisation is a good one though. there's a lot to be said for having in-depth knowledge of the history and culture of the organisation you're managing, which can only come from experience within that organisation.

Anonymous said...

your point about people not being able to rise within the organisation is a good one though. there's a lot to be said for having in-depth knowledge of the history and culture of the organisation you're managing, which can only come from experience within that organisation.True Anjum. However sometimes an organisation's culture has become dysfunctional and bringing in a new manager is a way to try and change that, so somebody from outside may be better.

Generally I would avoid saying that promoting from within the organisation is always best or always worst. But I would be very sceptical as to what a private-sector CEO can bring to a public-sector company. Maybe the private-sector CEO is just a really good manager and is capable of adapting to the public-sector culture, but as a rule, I'd be sceptical.

Anonymous said...

I'm comfortable with it as a private sector manager will be better equopped to see where savings can be made to produce a better output for the patients.

That is why public hospitals are better run and do more operations than public ones, for a fraction of the price.

Ooh controversial!!

stargazer said...

anon at 9.23am, you're showing your ignorance of the health sector. private hospitals only do the simple and easy operations, anything difficult and complicated or requiring complex and expensive machinery is sent off to the public system - because it's too unprofitable for them. that's why their stats might look better and it's exactly why commercial experience is not a good idea for public health.