Farewell from Prof Gregor Coster, CMDHB Chair (outgoing)

Prof Gregor Coster
Prof Gregor Coster

I’m writing this blog on the departure of the current board, to say a few words on behalf of the board and myself, and to thank you, our staff, for the valuable contributions that you make.

There is something special about Middlemore.  I believe that it is to do with the culture, developed by our clinicians and staff over many years. With the best will in the world, no hospital or large organisation can function without a strong culture that reflects the values held by the people who work within that organisation. I believe that at Middlemore we have a culture that is based on respect, integrity and commitment to patients. We are particularly fortunate to have a number of senior clinicians who have served this organisation for a long time and who generally have by their leadership and example set the tone within the hospital.  So I want to thank all of our health professionals for the valuable contributions that you make to the work of our DHB, both at Middlemore and in the community.

We are often faced with challenging decisions that impact either on services, departments, staff or patients. My encouragement to the board, and management, has always been “put the patient at the centre of the discussion, and generally you will make the right decision if you’re making it in the patient’s interest”. I can think of many decisions that we have taken where, by placing the patient at the centre of decision-making, we have made a different decision from where we started.  So I urge you to always place the patient and the family first.

I would like to reflect briefly on the achievements of the outgoing board and what has happened during my time as Chair. Ko Awatea has been established, we have held two APAC Forums, CSB has been built and will be occupied shortly, Edmund Hillary Block was built and is occupied, 20,000 Days campaign has been a huge success, 6 Hours Can Be Ours led the country, closer ties have been established with Primary Care/Localities, we have made excellent progress with health targets, and the Environmental Sustainability programme was successfully launched. There have been many other successes and I acknowledge the contribution of many to them.

As you know, the board has initiated the Localities program over the last 12 months. I believe that this is an important initiative that fosters integration between primary and secondary care. It has been very exciting to see the way that primary and secondary care clinicians have worked together to deliver better services closer to patients’ homes.  The shift of services from delivery in the hospital to delivery in the community, with the engagement of primary care and community, is an important step forwards into the future. I particularly want to acknowledge our primary care practices and PHOs, as well as secondary care clinicians, who have taken up the challenge to make a difference in delivering services in the community. I look forward to seeing enhancement of the localities program in the future.

The Counties Manukau DHB has been very fortunate to have the long-standing support of the Middlemore Foundation, previously known as the South Auckland Health Foundation. I want to particularly acknowledge and thank John Maasland, Nick Main and Pam Tregonning and the board of trustees for their untiring work on behalf of the Foundation and Middlemore. We have also been most fortunate to have the support of the Lion Foundation and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare who have given so much. Thank you.

I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank management within the DHB for the excellent work that you do in managing and supporting our clinical staff and services. In my view, we have uniformly excellent management, and I would encourage you to continue with that excellence. My particular thanks to Geraint Martin, CEO and Ron Pearson, Deputy CEO and their team for the leadership that they have provided to the organisation.  Thanks also to Dr Gloria Johnson for her leadership as Chief Medical Officer.

I would like to acknowledge and thank our retiring board members who have given outstanding service over a number of years. They are Paul Cressey, Don Barker, Bob Wichman (all 2001-2013), Gregor Coster (2001-2002, 2007-2013), and Jan Dawson (2011-2013). They will be replaced by Dr Lee Mathias (Chair), Wendy Lai (Deputy Chair), Ms Sandra Alofivae (who is reappointed) and Mr George Ngatai. My special thanks to all the members of the outgoing board – you have been an exceptional team. Best wishes to incoming board and Chair for this next term, and all that is yet to be achieved.

For myself, I have been appointed to the ACC Board, and also am Chairman of WorkSafe New Zealand, a new crown entity that is the health and safety regulator.

On behalf of the board, thank you all once again for the privilege of working with wonderful people in such a great organisation.

Prof Gregor Coster CNZM


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 “Farewell from Prof Gregor Coster, CMDHB Chair (outgoing)”

  1. Gregor – I have always appreciated your calm, reassuring and professional manner chairing and contributing to meetings I have attended with you. You have always been unfailing polite and thoughtful – not always easy to be I imagine when carrying the sort of pressure that comes with your role as Chair of a DHB. ACC and WorkSafe are fortunate to have you in their governance structures. Go well. Alex

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