CEO update 12 December 2017


“Watch this Space”!

With 2017 almost finished I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all the support that you’ve provided to Talie and me throughout the year.  The strength of any network is based on the commitment and energy that everyone provides, and we’ve seen the NZHIT network go from strength to strength over the past 3 years as a result. 

We will be entering 2018 with a new Government, a new Minister of Health and a new Director-General of Health so there is no doubt that we have interesting times ahead.  So, please make sure to get some well-earned rest and time with family and friends over the coming festive season.  Like me, I’m sure you’ll be giving thought to the year ahead and the strong part you can play in the NZHIT network to take advantage of the many opportunities that these changes will provide.

It was a pleasure to summarise the success of 2017 at the recent AGM (you can access a copy of the presentation here) and finish the year with a highly thought-provoking presentation from Tony Alexander, the Chief Economist at the Bank of New Zealand (a NZHIT member).

You’ll see a number of interesting articles in this newsletter (our final one for the year).  I want to particularly draw your attention to the link to the Loomio group so you can participate in the development of the MOH’s Digital Health Strategy.  Darren Douglass and the team at the Ministry are working extremely hard on this and making sure that there is wide cross-sector engagement in the Strategy’s development. Darren recently convened a specific NZHIT member workshop and he has involved a number of us in other workshops during the year, firstly in the development of the Digital Health Vision and now the Strategy.  So, please take this opportunity to provide your input as I can assure you it is definitely valued and important.

As the new Government and Minister start to settle into their work and begin to focus on the key areas for 2018 we’ve already seen a flurry of activity that signals a number of changes for the health sector over the coming 2-3 years.  In 2016, the Director-General of Health (Chai Chuah) embarked on a series of wide ranging and ambitious plans to re-position the MOH into a system leadership role. 

This hasn’t been without some pain with leadership struggles emerging from many parts of the health sector. The recently released Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) review noted that “The devolved nature of the Health and Disability System means the performance challenge for the Ministry is to effect outcomes at numerous levels throughout the system when it does not hold all the levers to drive that performance”.

The review also acknowledges that “…..the Ministry has made solid progress in delivering on Government priorities”. It also highlights that “……strong leadership, challenge, prioritisation and culture change will be required if the Ministry is to make the performance shift that is sought through this review”.

Regardless of the circumstances, in standing aside whilst only part-way through his term, Chai Chuah must be commended for making one of the most difficult leadership and personal decisions that anybody could make.  I know how passionate he has been about positioning the NZ health sector in readiness for the significant challenges to be faced over the coming 10+ years. 

In many ways, the PIF review highlights that it was always going to be difficult for any Director-General to begin this change process.  However, there obviously was no other option as staying the same would lead us downwards to a health system that would not meet the future demands of our citizens and society.

Whilst a new Director-General will provide an opportunity to re-set some of the tension areas that have arisen over the past 12 months, the review (and appointment of the Minister’s advisory panel) clearly signals the need to continue the processes that the MOH “…. has to continue to meet the high expectations that have been set for it to achieve its system leadership obligations”.

In other words (and not quoted from the PIF review) – “watch this space”!

All the best for a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Scott Arrol


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