When the unthinkable happens

Thursday 25 September will remain firmly etched in my mind as I was told of the disappearance of a five-day-old baby from our Maternity Ward at Middlemore Hospital. While the baby was safety returned to its parents, thanks to CCTV and the prompt action of staff, security and police it was a harrowing time for the parents and staff involved.

The first thing I want to say, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all of us is that our hearts go out to the family concerned.  As a dad with three children of my own and two stepdaughters I could only imagine the pain the parents were going through. As a CEO, there was a strong sense of responsibility. This extra-ordinary event took place within our Hospital – a place where people should feel safe and secure.

With additional safety measures now in place, we will be undergoing a full review into what happened. I just want to acknowledge the graciousness and calm attitude the family have shown, under such incredible circumstances. We are doing all we can to provide full support to the family and the staff involved to minimise any impact from this terrible event.

The power of compassion

For many of us work is a place of routine, where we perform similar tasks and activities on a day-to-day basis. This gives us a degree of comfort or certainty in what we do.

For the people we look after, whether it’s in Hospital, a General Practice or out in the community, our workplace can be a place of extraordinary stress and uncertainty and I’m incredibly mindful that we have a responsibility, not only to keep our patients safe, but also to provide quality care with compassion, patience and understanding.

Like many of you I’ve been on the receiving end of care and have felt vulnerable, anxious and out of my comfort zone. As a result I’m incredibly mindful of how compassion must take centre stage in everything that we do – whether it’s a reassuring touch, a helping hand or just someone there to listen. As always, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Granny Test and our commitment to provide the standard of care we would want our family members to receive.

Some of you may have watched a video called Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care. I’ve watched this video 3 times now and it still has a profound effect on me. It shows what happens when you put yourself into someone else’s shoes – hear what they hear and see what they see. It’s incredibly powerful and is something we should all be mindful of when caring for our patients, their families and ourselves.  After you have watched the video ask yourself the following question – would you treat people differently?

Greater_miracle Video Source: Cleveland Clinic



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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