The Arrival of Winter

Those of you who’ve seen me over the last couple of weeks may have realised that I’ve been suffering from a large dose of man flu – a man flu that doesn’t seem to want to go away despite my flu immunisation. At the same time I’ve noticed how many colleagues have been off or also suffering from the dreaded lurgy.  All of which adds up to the realisation that winter is upon us, even if the weather doesn’t always feel like it.

Unsurprisingly, the arrival of winter means we’ve had a hospital that has been running at full speed, with more than 100 percent occupancy on some days.  I just want to acknowledge how hard you’re all working to keep the hospital running as well and as safely as it does, especially in those areas that have been hit by sick leave.  I’d also like to acknowledge how well ED is working to still get people either home or into the hospital in less than six hours, despite all the pressures. Your contributions are vital to helping us manage during this period.

In an earlier blog post, I talked about the importance of CMDHB taking a whole of systems approach to look at how we decrease demand on hospital by working alongside primary and community care, and also how we get the patient journey as smooth as possible so that people get seen in the right place, at the right time and in the right way.  It’s a theme that’s also been picked up by a lot of staff in their responses to my top 10 wicked problems challenge.  In the coming weeks, I’ll be launching a major two year initiative which will look at mobilising everybody to really crack this wicked problem.  Watch this space…

As you may know, our financial year has just finished.  On a high note, I can say that we have turned out undoubtedly one of the top performances against the six national health targets.  Not only have we ensured our improvements in ED have continued but we have treated more elective cases than ever before, achieved for the first time the national target around immunisations, ensured that we’ve improved our access to cancer treatment, continued to improve our cardiovascular disease and diabetes care, and also significantly improved our support to smokers.  For a long time we’ve been one of the laggards on this nationally but through the hard work of the Smokefree team, we are now in the high 80 percents and I’m sure in a great position to move up to 95 percent in the coming year.

We also ended the year with a very strong financial position which is doubly pleasing. You may remember that we established Thriving in Difficult Times with the explicit challenge of redesigning how we work and improving our quality so costs go down, in order to save $10 million. We committed to this because we didn’t want to have to resort to job cuts, as many organisations have done.  It was the harder road to take and it was always a risk.  The good news is that the initial review of the programme suggests we’ve saved significantly more than $10 million which is one of the major reasons why we have such a secure financial position.  It also means we can continue our commitment to you that we won’t be making job cuts to make financial savings. Thanks for your contributions to Thriving in Difficult Times – the initiative has helped improve everybody’s job security and demonstrates to me how we can work together to make our organisation a successful one.

I have to add my congratulations to the Samoan rugby team for their stunning victory over Australia last weekend. As a Welshman who has endured Wales’ defeat against Samoa in the 1991 Rugby World Cup (I was there) I have to say I’m more than a little nervous when the boys in red come up against the boys in blue in this World Cup in a few weeks time.  Still, we’ve got Namibia in our group and, as we say in Wales, it’s always nice to lose to somebody new.

Which brings me, finally, to a story about loyalty and my 14-year-old son Owen which I’d like to share with you.  He’s actually quite a talented halfback so I asked him who he was going to play for when he grew up – Wales or the All Blacks? (He’s lived in New Zealand now for about five years.) He looked at me and after a bit of thought said ‘I’ll play for Wales’.  I was really, really proud until I asked him why.  His response? ‘Because I won’t be good enough to play for the All Blacks.’

Bless him!



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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