Envisaging the Future

Today is a cold, windy August day and I’m sitting here with a filthy cold (sorry, flu – I’m a man!) contemplating my very hectic schedule. At times like this, it’s more important than ever to remind ourselves of why we’re here and why what we are doing is so important.

This was brought home to me when I attended the launch of the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme at Otara’s Rongomai School recently. The launch was celebrated by Associate Minister of Health, Tariana Turia, our Professor of Community Paediatrics, Diana Lennon, and others, but the most important people present, I felt, were the primary school students themselves.

Looking at all those lovely kids, it struck me just what potential they have and how incredibly important it is that we are successful in all that we do, especially eradicating rheumatic fever from South Auckland. While we were waiting, one of our doctors told me that at least two or three of the kids present would already have had rheumatic fever and would suffer the long-term consequences for the rest of their lives. When you consider that rheumatic fever is preventable, I found that really quite heartbreaking.

What we do is not just about budgets or numbers or ticking boxes. It’s about people, particularly those kids who should have, must have, a fantastic future in front of them. Our responsibility as a DHB is to kick the roadblocks out of their way so that they can realise their potential. And I’m not just talking about their health potential. We also need to engage with the education system to develop them and give them the best opportunities for the future. I would like to see the health system become a place that delivers jobs and futures as well as healthcare to our community in their localities.

So when I’m sitting here feeling busy, it’s important to ground myself and realise that the endless meetings, the squillions of emails and the internal counting of paperclips is all in the pursuit of a better future for children like those at Rongomai School and their families. That is what gets me out of bed in the morning, as it has since I started my career in public health.

Speaking of ‘grounding myself’, you’ll remember that late last year I blogged about Keeping Well and confessed to meditating on plane trips to and from Wellington. Following on from that discussion of workplace wellness, it was fantastic to see our first Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training course get underway at Ko Awatea last week. Co-facilitated by one of our Senior Clinical Psychologists, Jo Soldan, the first session went extremely well and there was lots of interest from staff in workplace mindfulness and how this can improve resilience and reduce burnout. If you missed out this time, applications are already open for the November course.

Finally, I’d also like to extend a big thank you to Kim Wiseman and her team in Recruitment. Following on from my offer to all staff last year, I recently spent some time ‘shadowing’ the Recruitment team and learning about the work they’re doing to engage staff and attract the best talent possible to CMDHB. It was great to meet you all and find out more about what you’re doing to bring the best and brightest to Counties. Keep up the good work.



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.

5 thoughts on “Envisaging the Future”

  1. It is a great initiative for the children at Rongomai Primary to pilot this, and thank you to Audrey for noticing the children sitting outside under the canopy. Unfortunately Rongomai Primary is the
    only school in the area to have no school hall, and normally have to hold their assemblies under the
    canopy in all types of weather. They are petitioning for a school hall but this is a long process, it was just
    lucky that it did not rain on the day of the launch.

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