National 26 March 2018
Dear Member,

Welcome to the 6th issue for 2018 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

A stern warning to DHBs about spending but important not to then micro-manage

Extraordinary findings published last week about the excessive and unauthorised expenditure by Waikato DHB’s former Chief Executive, Nigel Murray. The full State Services Commission report is online at The SSC found that more than half of Nigel Murray’s claims for travel and accommodation were unjustified, and it has referred the case to the Serious Fraud Office.

The response by Health Minister David Clark is at He has effectively put DHB Chairs and senior managers on notice about the need to be accountable for their expenditure – this is an important message but at the same time ASMS would not want the circumstances in Waikato to lead the Government down a path of micro-management.

What happened in Waikato was an extraordinary situation, a debacle involving a Chief Executive who spent money from the taxpayers’ purse without any real accountability, and a Board Chair who didn’t have a clue and is now blaming everyone else for the mess that’s resulted.

The ASMS media release about the situation is at

ASMS research in the BMJ Open

Ground-breaking ASMS research into the prevalence and consequences of bullying within New Zealand’s senior medical workforce has been published in the BMJ Open:

This research was led by ASMS Principal Analyst (Policy and Research) Dr Charlotte Chambers, and was published as a Health Dialogue in November last year: It has now been published as a report for the BMJ Open, authored jointly by Dr Chambers and fellow authors Professor Christopher MA Frampton, Professor Martin McKee and incoming ASMS National President Dr Murray Barclay.

The research found that bullying is prevalent in New Zealand’s senior medical workforce and is associated with high workloads, and low peer and managerial support. The findings help identify conditions and pressures that may encourage bullying and highlight the significant risk of bullying for individuals and their patients.

Did you know…

…about employee wellbeing?

Following the renegotiation of your MECA, the employee wellbeing clause contained in Part One of the MECA has been amended to now include a statement that both the DHB and you as an employee agree to take reasonable steps to protect yourself and your fellow employees against harm to health, safety and welfare by eliminating or minimising risks arising from work and to also promote employees’ wellbeing.

Kind regards,

Ian Powell