Just another day at Counties Manukau Health

This is a tough time of year. We’re not just battling the doom, gloom and demand of winter, but we’re also approaching the end of the financial year and are busy locking and loading next year’s budget. I think that those two things together always make this time of year one of the hardest and busiest.

The great news is that we will end 2012/13 very strongly, having delivered more patient care than ever, more safely than ever and in a more patient centred way, all while balancing our books. This fantastic result is testament to your hard work, diligence and effort, and something you can all feel rightly proud of.

The “catch-22” of working in a high performing organisation is the natural ambition and expectation to perform at an even higher level in future. Already, we are looking ahead and thinking not just of how we can do it all again next year, but how we can do it faster, better, more effectively and more safely. Improvement doesn’t stop.

What never ceases to amaze me, however, is the way that our organisation embraces and rises to this challenge. It’s a unique attribute of Team Counties and I am regularly proud of your creativity and absolute ‘can do’ attitude to improvement. It’s no stretch to say that we all share a genuine commitment to provide the best services we can to the people of South Auckland. Indeed, Counties Manukau Health is undoubtedly the best organisation I’ve ever had the honour to work for, owing, in part, to the amazing atmosphere and character that we cultivate here.

This was brought home to me earlier this week when I was sitting in Ko Awatea’s atrium surrounded by what can only be described as an incredible atmosphere. In the main lecture theatre, 140 people from across the health sector were gathered together for Beyond 20,000 – phase two of our 20,000 Days campaign. Having successfully delivered a saving of more than 20,000 bed days through phase one, we are now kicking off 16 new collaboratives and this group had come together to learn about the methodology and tools they will need to progress this work. I’ll blog more about this campaign and its successes next week, but for now it’s enough to say how wonderful it was to see so many people enthused by the prospect of improvement and the changes they can make right across the system.

Looking across to some of the smaller rooms, I could see that every one of them was full of eager and inquisitive staff learning, developing and committing to creating a better future. Room after room was full of people absorbed in the various courses, meetings and training underway.

And finally, the Pasifika Week Fanau Ola celebrations were taking place in the atrium. People in Ko Awatea at midday were treated to a performance from a great Cook Island dance troop and drummers, who made the most fantastic noise. 

A Cook Island dance troop and drummers create a stir in Ko Awatea
A Cook Island dance troop and drummers create a stir in Ko Awatea

Having once been asked to join in with some Pacific dancers, and in doing so made a complete fool of myself, I opted to blend into the crowd this time round. Nonetheless, I was hugely impressed by this performance and, as those that were there will know, the vibe was nothing short of electric! 

Everyone on their feet!
Everyone on their feet!

All of this left me feeling incredibly buoyant. Part of the vision for Ko Awatea was to create a space where people could come together to celebrate who we are and create the future. And it was all literally happening in front of me. A great buzz and exciting atmosphere in the middle of the toughest time of our year! Legendary. 

But the most exciting thing about it for me was that it was actually just another day at CM Health. The buzz, the energy, the commitment and the passion? All business as usual for our great organisation. 

On a different note and at the risk of sounding unsporting, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Lions’ tour to Australia, particularly the weekend’s victory over the Wallabies. In the last year and a bit, Wales have played Australia five times and lost five times. To make matters worse, in three of those games they’ve lost in the last move thanks to Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale. So when he missed what could have been a winning kick at the very end of last weekend’s game, I felt that maybe karma isn’t such a bad thing. Order was restored! 



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 “Just another day at Counties Manukau Health”

  1. In part I think the “Counties” attitude has to do with our leadership too, it is great to read such an enthusiastic & passionate blog. I have worked in a few different cinical settings in & out of NZ & always feel like I am at hme here in MMore. I do think we need to blow our own trumpet a bit more though… we are leaders in many many different aspects.

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