The Challenge of 2013

What a week – both for New Zealand, with the volcanic ash and earthquakes in Christchurch, and also for CMDHB as we count down to the opening of Ko Awatea. My heart goes out to Cantabrians who are living through these earthquakes and the associated uncertainty and disruption. I’m sure you join with me in sending them our support.

Today I’m keen to share more with you about the challenge of 2013. Thanks to Gary Jackson, our former Clinical Director in the Health Intelligence Unit, we know we will run out of hospital beds by 2013 if acute admissions keep rising at their current rate. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, we have to ‘Achieve the Balance’ and reduce the number of acute admissions to Middlemore by between 5 and 10% in the next two years. This means preventing 5000 acute admissions every year from 2013 onwards.

It’s a critical issue for CMDHB and one I’ll be talking a lot more about across the organisation. At this stage, I can let you know that we are planning a large campaign focused on preventing 5000 acute admissions. It will involve the entire health system and community, particularly primary and community care to ensure people can be looked after in the community or at home rather than in hospital.

In partnership with primary care, we’ll also have to look at the way we work within Middlemore and across the whole health system through clinical pathways. Over the coming months, I want to galvanize clinical leaders into action and get input from frontline staff about how we can address this. It might sound daunting but, having seen the success of EC’s ‘Six Hours Can Be Ours’ campaign, I have full confidence in our ability to solve this wicked and challenging problem. We can and we will.

In the shorter term, we have just days to go until the opening of Ko Awatea. What began as an idea is now a state-of-the-art building thanks to the hard work and dedication of many people. Working smarter in the future is key to our success and to achieve this, Ko Awatea must become part of our daily working lives. The opening is key to engaging with you all and making this happen.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s launch. It promises to be very exciting, with both international speakers and a number of CMDHB staff helping us celebrate our milestone. The launch and the colloquium that follows are open to all staff and I encourage you to take part. For the programme or to register, visit For those who can’t make it, the entire event will be recorded so you can watch what interests you at a later stage.

Once it’s open, Ko Awatea promises to bring a different and innovative way of thinking to what we do and how we do it. Over the past five years, CMDHB has spent $545 million upgrading and redeveloping the Middlemore site. Ko Awatea cost $9.9 million, with the running costs shared between us and our local university partners. By comparison, the investment in Ko Awatea is small but it’s one we hope will have a very big impact on how we work.

Whilst we are in an ever-changing environment, there is one thing that is constant and that is investing in staff and your development. In my view, if we haven’t got well-trained staff to look after patients or operate machines, or the right working systems, we aren’t making the most of the huge capital investment we have seen come into CMDHB.

Currently, when you add up the cost of CME, development for nurses and Allied Health staff, and the investment in Ko Awatea, we spend about $24 million a year on staff development. It might sound a lot but international comparisons suggest we should be spending closer to $40 million. For now, I want to continue our commitment to staff development and ensure that our $24 million is invested in developing you in the best way we can.

Finally, thanks must go to whoever drew a wig on my head on one of the Ko Awatea posters currently up around Middlemore.

Geraint 1 Geraint 2

It’s been a long time since I had that much hair and you brought back many fond memories. I just wish you hadn’t chosen a pen with blue ink – I’ve always fancied being a blonde.

See you at Ko Awatea’s opening on Tuesday. 



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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