Music to my Ears

There’s an extraordinary sense of satisfaction to be had when something complex is executed perfectly. As you may know, I’m also the Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and I love attending orchestral performances. The audience has a sense of anticipation as talented musicians take to the stage with their instruments to form an orchestra under the direction of a conductor. But this soon turns to delight and satisfaction as complex pieces of classical music, comprising thousands of different notes, are performed flawlessly.

Healthcare delivery isn’t that different. In your own fields and areas, you are all ‘talented musicians’ who wield ‘instruments’ in a concerted way to contribute to a larger ‘performance’, or in our case, a patient journey. I’m just the guy up the front, dressed in a penguin suit and waving a stick!

And just like listening to an orchestra perform, there is the same sense of delight and satisfaction to be had when a complex patient journey is delivered with perfection. This was certainly the case for me earlier this week when I received this very moving letter from one of our patients, Emily Worman, who has given her permission for it to be shared:

I would like to comment on the positive evolution of Middlemore Hospital. I was born in 1976 with a cleft lip and palate and much of my childhood was spent at Middlemore. My memories of the place mostly involve the waiting room at the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinic which was housed in a building which always looked temporary. The waiting times were LONG but the staff were always fantastic. I always hated staying overnight at Middlemore – for me it was a terrifying place once the lights went out – there were always so many strange noises! Also, although I know that being a teaching and learning hospital is important, as a kid I never looked forward to my appointments with the plastic surgeons. I recall sitting in a large room with my mum (the doctors would always talk to her and never to me) and there used to be at least (it seemed) about twenty additional students in white coats there to watch the show.

As I grew up my need for Middlemore diminished. However, lately I had a need to go back and receive treatment to help me with my hearing. I ended up having surgery on my sinuses.

Module 3 of the SuperClinic in Manukau is AMAZING. It is hard to even make comparisons with my experiences as a child. After being referred I got an appointment quickly and I received a reminder text. I came prepared to my first appointment with book in hand ready for a long wait! Didn’t even get to read the first page – I was seen so quickly. I have never waited long for my appointments at Module 3. The admin and nursing staff are outstanding – some even remembered me from when I was a kid!

Mr Bartley took my concerns seriously and proceeded to work out the best treatment plan. He did a fantastic job and I have recently been discharged from his care. Not only has my hearing improved, in addition, the surgery has enabled me to travel on international flights without the serious sinus pain I have been dealing with for years. I hope this comment will go some way to thanking him for all his care and hard work.

The poor staff at the SuperClinic had to deal with me (I was an emotional wreck by the time I was called for my surgery). All the bad memories of nights in Middlemore all those years ago were haunting me. However, I shouldn’t have worried as my experience was completely different. The aftercare was extremely good. There were no weird noises on the wards of the Super Clinic at night – in fact it felt more like a good hotel! It was so quiet and peaceful and the staff were so attentive – I’m sure it contributed to my quick recovery.

I feel so grateful we live in a country in which we have access to such high quality care. Please pass on my thanks to all your staff. 

Emily Worman

To me, this letter really speaks to the way in which we succeed in bringing together a vast range of specialists to deliver a cohesive experience for our patients and improve their health outcomes. In Emily’s case, this surgery has literally broadened her horizons as she can now travel beyond New Zealand without pain and discomfort. I can only imagine how liberating that must be for her.

So to all those involved in Emily’s care, and in the many other patient journeys we deliver each and every day, I really do want to add my own thanks and gratitude. It’s no ‘happy accident’ when we successfully deliver a perfect patient journey – I know that it takes an awful lot of hard work, coordination and planning. That’s why letters like this make me so very proud to be the ‘conductor’ of our great organisation. Simply put, they are music to my ears.

Have a great weekend.



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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