National 6 September 2017
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 9th issue for 2017 of ASMS Direct, our national electronic publication.

You can also keep in touch with the latest news and views on health issues relevant to public hospital specialists via our website, which contains links (at the top of the home page) to our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, as well as our quarterly magazine The Specialist. We’re also on Twitter at

National 2017 survey of clinical governance for quality and safety in DHBs

Some of you may recall the original 2010 survey study of clinical governance in DHBs, undertaken by Professor Robin Gauld from Otago University in partnership with ASMS. Member responses, assessing clinical governance development, led to creation of an index which scored each DHB. The study was repeated in 2012, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and the Health Quality & Safety Commission. This showed some progress.

HQSC has commissioned another follow up, which is presently underway. Your DHB should, by now, have invited you to participate, and ASMS encourages you to do so. If you have not participated, you can do so at the link below. The survey takes just over four minutes to complete. Results will be fed back to the sector later in the year and we will look forward to reporting results to our members.

The survey can be accessed here:

Any questions about, or comments on, the survey can be addressed to:

Continuing scrutiny of Waikato DHB’s performance

Ongoing investigations into Waikato DHB’s financial situation and the performance of its leadership – in particular, Chief Executive Nigel Murray and Board Chair Bob Simcock – continue to feature prominently in media coverage. The New Zealand Herald has been especially active in writing about these issues through an impressively vigilant journalist Natalie Akoorie. Links to her coverage of the DHB in the past year are included for your information.

ASMS has urged the State Services Commission to take over the investigation into the Chief Executive’s expenses:

Medical Council review of statement on complementary and alternative medicine

The Medical Council is reviewing its statement on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and is seeking your input. Comments and submissions on the statement close on Friday 29 September.

The statement was last revised in March 2011. While its contents are still applicable, the Council intends to improve its flow and clarity by re-ordering some clauses and revising some of the wording in the statement.

As well, the Council intends to make it clear from the revised statement that doctors who practise CAM are expected to adhere to their professional, legal and ethical obligations as a doctor. In addition, Council is proposing to include more guidance to doctors on:

  • discussing CAM with patients and helping them to make informed choices about their care;
  • advertising in relation to CAM;
  • associating with a CAM clinic, therapy or device.

More information, including how to provide input and links to the consultation documents, are at

Concerns about public private partnerships (PPPs) for Dunedin and Westport

ASMS (and others) has raised significant concerns over the possible funding of Dunedin Hospital’s rebuild through a public private partnership, signalled by the Government as something it would consider:

We see this as part of a wider pattern of privatisation by stealth and, if it went ahead, it would essentially involve handing over the keys for one of the country’s biggest public hospitals to private investors, who would then profit at the expense of patient care. Our media releases on this are on the ASMS website at and

Subsequently, Labour has ruled out a PPP for the Dunedin Hospital rebuild if it is elected to Government:

Meanwhile, on the West Coast we have raised similar concerns about talk of a PPP variant called ‘capital recycling’ there for a new medical facility: and

Media coverage includes:

Canterbury Charity Hospital

The 10th anniversary of the Canterbury Charity Hospital is a bitter-sweet anniversary. While it has much to celebrate, the fact that we still need a charity hospital is a real indictment of the level of unmet health need in the community and the many years of Government under-funding of our public hospitals (

Co-founder and surgeon Phil Bagshaw has traced the evolution of the Charity Hospital over the years, noting that it has provided more than 14,000 patient visits (

Other media coverage includes:

• Newshub:

• TVNZ’s One News:

ASMS comments on Government’s announcement on elective surgery

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced that National will increase the number of elective surgeries to 200,000 a year over the next four years (

Labour’s health spokesperson, David Clark, has described the promise as bizarre and says the numbers don’t add up (

ASMS Executive Director Ian Powell was interviewed on the matter on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme (

Did you know…about paid parental leave?

If you are in receipt of the statutory parental leave payment, you are now entitled to 14 weeks on full pay by means of the DHB topping up the difference between your full pay and the IRD payment. (The IRD payment is for 18 weeks and is currently capped at $516.85 before tax per week).

If you are not receiving the statutory (IRD) parental leave payment (including not being entitled to it), you are still entitled to 6 weeks on full pay (as per the previous MECA).

The new MECA does not change the amount of unpaid leave you can apply for (up to 6 months if you have less than 12 months’ service and up to 12 months if you have completed 12 months’ service) or the 2 weeks paid partner leave.

Kind regards, 

Ian Powell
Executive Director