EXCLUSIVE: Waikato DHB Chair jumps off cliff before being pushed

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The 2013 National Govt appointee as Chair of the Waikato DHB, former Nat MP Bob Simcock, finally read the tea leaves on the evening of 28thNovember and fell on his sword – sending his resignation letter to Health Minister David Clark, who gracefully (and probably gratefully) accepted it, stating it was the ‘right thing’ for Simcock to do.

As suggested in The Daily Blog only a couple of days ago, Simcock’s continuing presence as the supposed ‘leader’ of one of the largest DHB’s ($1.4B annual turnover) was a major impediment to the organisation’s recovery from the excesses of rip-off merchant Nigel Murray, the former CEO outed, and ousted, six weeks ago, after blowing $218,000 of taxpayers’ money on wine, women and travel.

Murray, who’d had a chequered career as CEO at Southland DHB and at Fraser Health in Canada, had been brought in on Simcock’s urging, despite several warnings provided to him by doctors’ unions and local MP Sue Moroney. As soon as he got his feet under the table Murray (already on an annual $560,000 salary) began spending up large on expenses, that were supposed to be authorised and overseen by Simcock – but rarely were.

His travel was also excessive; in the last of his three years at the DHB, the dodgy character was actually away from the organisation for more than half of the year, and not all conferences he was booked for were actually attended by him.

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An internal legal investigation, which was stopped, unfinished, when Murray abruptly resigned, was followed by a damning Audit NZ report, and then a currently under-way State Services Commission investigation, ordered by the Health Minister.

Simcock’s delays in calling Murray to task, delays in informing fellow Board members about the problems, and the slow nature of the various enquiries into Murray made his position completely untenable some months ago. The only people who didn’t accept this were Simcock himself, and some of the Board members present throughout the sorry saga.

At least two Board members – myself and Maryanne Gill – publicly refused to state they had confidence in Simcock as Chair (despite his self-serving claim otherwise), and several health and other organisations publicly called for his resignation, as I and the NZ Herald editorial did, along with many members of the public.

A front-page NZ Herald lead article on 28th November, along with several Radio NZ bulletins, stating the Serious Fraud Office was now ‘enquiring’ into the Murray expenses saga was clearly the last straw for the Government, who obviously told Simcock that day to jump, or he would be unceremoniously thrown off the cliff – which he did a few hours later.

 

Dave Macpherson is TDB’s mental health blogger. He became a Waikato DHB member after his son died from mental health incompetence.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Dave – but why do I get that feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg of rorts that took (and probably still taking place) under the National Government. I do hope more of those sucking the tax payer dry , get ousted.

    • 100% Kim Dandy.

      Me too;

      Dave to all the Kim Dandy said here, he is correct; – the whole rotten MoH is corrupt to the core, as they are blocking effective “alterative medications” that only ‘Big Pharma’ dont want to alllow us to have so MpH is in bed with “big Pharma” too: – follow the money Dave.

  2. In the mean time people would have been denied medical treatments, medications, scans, vital operations while this rort was taking place all under a government that has and continues to claimed to be fiscally responsible and good managers of our economy. This is bloody disgusting and how much more will be uncovered. All the more reason why our new government needs to do stock takes and reviews so they don’t get blamed for the sham.

  3. Great post! I’d like to see charges of negligence against the Chairman too. Too many of these types are taking the money and doing next to zero governance for it. Ban political appointments, we already have so many bad managers in NZ, then they just keep recycling them! Society needs a way to ban appalling mangers from doing the same mistakes and frauds again and again. People probably were denied health care with the money scammed off in expenses – not to mention the generous CEO salary – while the chairman notices nothing amiss for years, even after being warned.

  4. I hope the SFO prosecutes Murray and Simcock who should be made to pay the money back.

    These two and their colleagues at the Auckland council who have a strong urge to spend ratepayers money on their own excesses need to be made an example of and reminded that the money they spend is belongs to the people of Auckland and elsewhere not an open chequebook for them to recklessly spend is if they have the right, and to misappropriate this money should carry a prison sentence and the recovery of ratepayers funds.

    Nothing less should be tolerated.

  5. Apart from Steve McPherson, Waikato DHB member, raising concerns, the only worthwhile reporting on this saga that I heard was on RNZ. Most other MSM seem to be pre occupied with Harry and his new bride to be, and gossip, and shallow stories on this that and the other.

    What a damned state of affairs in a supposed ‘democracy’.

    • Also, for a change, the Herald’s Natalie Akoorie – she’s done a brilliant job, for months.
      (And it’s Dave, not Steve, but hey, what’s in a name?)

  6. Where are all the right wing trolls defending National now? Nigel Murray was brought in as a hatchet man for Coleman and that’s what he did in Canada. He left Fraser Health with allegations over his spending and substandard patient care and underfunding. Simcock is a formal National MP and was willing to cough and turn the other way when it came to Murray’s expenses as long as he helped slash costs. Now they’ve been found out, but where’s Coleman?

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