Awaiting the Arrival of Spring

I went for a walk last weekend and was pleased to see some spring bulbs coming out. With the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, there’s a definite sense that spring is finally on its way.

But that doesn’t take away from what has been a long, tough and very busy winter, especially at Middlemore Hospital where the warmer weather hasn’t yet translated into a reduction in demand. I just want to note how incredibly well our staff have managed the significant surge in demand this year. You have coped brilliantly and the fact that we have continued to deliver high quality care to our patients, even under such trying circumstances, is testament to how hard you all work. I’d like to particularly acknowledge the work put in by our Emergency Department staff and physicians who have borne the brunt of the surge in demand. I realise how very hard you’ve all been working to deliver care to a seemingly endless stream of patients within your six hour target, and I know this has been an exhausting time for you all. Hopefully with the near advent of spring, this demand will begin to ease off very soon.

I’ve had a few discussions with a number of key people throughout the organisation about this winter period. It’s obvious that there’s very little improvement to be gained now by just becoming a little bit more efficient each year to meet our additional workloads. Instead, we have to start thinking quite differently about how we work. This is what our 20,000 Days campaign, to return 20,000 days back to our community, and our work on developing Localities are all about. They’re about building capacity in the community so that people can stay at home and be treated in their locality rather than coming to hospital. The critical thing is that these strategies are developing and will continue to do so over time.

As well as our longer-term solutions though, I’m really focussed on what we can do in the immediate future. Like many predicaments in healthcare, we all know what the problems are but the solutions to these seem in much shorter supply! Fortunately, one of the great things that characterizes Team Counties is our ability to come together to develop solutions to the problems we face. The very reason why we built Ko Awatea was to have a place where we can gather to come up with solutions and implement them. Our challenge now is to recognize the need to work differently so that we don’t just struggle well against the problems that we face but we actually find ways of overcoming them.

On a different note, I celebrated a personal milestone earlier this week when I officially became a New Zealand citizen at a ceremony in Auckland’s Town Hall. After almost six years in New Zealand, it was great for me to be part of this event which saw 518 people from 65 different countries become New Zealanders. There were a whole range of people with diverse stories and histories – from those like me who have come here because of a great career opportunity to people who have come here as refugees from places like Myanmar and the African subcontinent. I really saw the diversity that is modern Auckland and modern New Zealand.

Of course it’s great to now count myself as a kiwi but there is one aspect of my newfound nationality which I will always struggle with – when Wales play the All Blacks. It’s going to be a real tug of war for me which will certainly divide my loyalties, but on the flip side, for the first time in my life I’ll be in a position where I can’t lose.



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.

One thought on “Awaiting the Arrival of Spring”

  1. Welcome to our latest Kiwi. Thank you also for your contribution to making New Zealand, Auckland and Counties Manukau a better place in the short time you have been here.

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