An Early Christmas Present

Amongst other things, Christmas is the season of giving and last week was no exception. Some of you may have recognised the face that is currently beaming out from the billboards at either end of Middlemore Hospital. This little girl, Sophie, was born prematurely at 26 weeks gestation at MMH. It was an extremely difficult time for Sophie and her parents in those first few months but thanks to the huge expertise of staff in our Neonatal Unit, Sophie not only survived but thrived. As you can now see on the billboards, she’s a happy and beaming young girl who has gone on to become the face of the Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal.

This annual appeal, which has been running since 2007, generously supports 10 dedicated children’s hospitals throughout the country, among them Kidz First. Alongside Dr Lindsay Mildenhall, Middlemore Foundation (MMF) chairperson Nick Main, and MMF Executive Director Pam Tregonning, I was absolutely thrilled to last week receive a cheque from Countdown and one of their suppliers Unilever for a staggering $250,000. This generous contribution to Kidz First will purchase a much-needed monitoring system for our Neonatal Unit, to help ensure vulnerable babies are continuously monitored while in our care. It also brings the total raised for Kidz First by the appeal since 2007 to over $1,000,000 – an unbelievable amount.

This generosity is amazing, especially in the current financial climate. On behalf of Counties Manukau Health and families like Sophie’s, who benefit from the services we provide, I just want to say a huge thank you to Countdown and Unilever for going all out and raising this money for us. It is a wonderful gesture which has really brought home to me what a supportive and generous community, and country, we work in.

Also over the last week I’ve been quite taken by two surveys which have come across my desk. The first was a national survey of clinicians’ input into decision making, in which CM Health ranked best in the country. This is a great result which is testament to our efforts to build a culture of working together and empowering people to make decisions, rather that having a top down, command approach.

As, if not more, important is the staff satisfaction survey, results of which are available for staff on the front page of SouthNET (intranet). While there are a number of issues that we need to address, I think the results point to an organisation which is consistently performing well. There’s no doubt that we have a very hard job to do but what I take away from this survey is that we are supporting each other to do that to a high standard. Having said that, I don’t want to rest on my laurels and am really keen for your views at any time on what we can do to improve staff satisfaction levels. It’s vitally important to me that we do what we can to ensure you are satisfied at work and enjoy being part of Team Counties. If you have feedback or ideas, please email me on

Of course at this time of year our thoughts are turning to Christmas and, like me, you are no doubt looking forward to spending some time with family and friends. Of course, many staff will be working through this period and I thank you for the sacrifice you’re making to ensure our services continue to operate as usual. I hope it is a quiet time and that you all get a break soon too!

In the meantime I’m sure I’m not alone in staggering towards Christmas rather like a marathon runner does in the Olympics (although devoid of the style and athleticism marathon runners manage I can assure you). In my last blog of the year later this week, I will reflect on what we have achieved this year but for now I just want to say a huge big thank you. Every moment of every day, every person in every team has put a huge amount in this year and it’s been a real privilege to work with you all.

Lastly, I just want to say how much better a Kiwi Christmas is than the ones I have endured back in the UK. A number of people have commented that I’m a bit of a grump around Christmas but actually the truth is that for me, this time of year has always been marked by freezing cold temperatures, darkness by 3pm and Christmas day spent stuck in a small, undoubtedly over-heated house with lots of people watching outdated James Bond movies or yet another repeat of The Sound of Music. It’s no great surprise that the murder rate rises in the UK at Christmas time!

The very great joy of a Kiwi Christmas is that you can go outside or down to beach and chill out, which really does make it so much better. Unlike last year, I’m pretty hopeful that we will have a great summer – the pohutukawas are out and I’ve got rotten hayfever, two sure signs that warm weather is on its way.



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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