Troughers at it again in New Zealand’s Healthcare System

Some things in this world should be sacred, but when it comes to bureaucrats spending other people’s money, nothing is. The right of taxpayers (whose money is taken, like it or not, to fund healthcare for the nation) to have some confidence that their money is not being wasted by those charged with ‘redistributing’ it in the name of health.

A recent article published online at Right Minds NZ reveals that this is not the case. The Auckland District Health Board, or ADHB, spent $95,000 on consultants to promulgate a new set of corporate ‘values’. This included several (presumably business class) flights for the consultant, Tim Keogh, to come over from the UK. Are corporate consultants not available closer to home? This bland and generic list is replicated by a dozen New Zealand firms with greater local knowledge and more reasonable prices. The choice of a firm from the UK, where ADHB CEO Ailsa Claire hails from, raises questions of corruption.

Tim Keogh’s blurb is benign enough in itself: “Whilst Tim’s background combines consumer advertising, customer experience design (through people and technology), and culture change; his passion is helping people and organisations to build the positivity, skills and resilience to be the best they can be.” Now, this is interesting – why would a government health entity, granted a monopoly of most healthcare, care about ‘customer experience’? They don’t – the customers will be there, regardless of their experience, because they have no choice. No change of values in the world will make any difference to the ‘customer’ experience. Only when the ‘customer’ has a choice of providers will their experience be valued.

Right Minds NZ’s article indicates that ‘The values of the organisation were changed from “integrity, respect, innovation, and effectiveness” to “welcome, respect, together, and aim high.” The change was enacted with professional help from an overseas consultant and a week of workshops with staff. Several people who were shown the two lists remarked that the new values seem like a “dumbing down” of the old values.’ Is ‘Welcome’ a ‘value’ now?

The DHB’s response to the Official Information Request admits that the main reason behind the ‘values’ change was the CEO leaving her mark on the organisation. As a New Zealand taxpayer, I would echo the sentiment of Right Minds NZ that she should do so by doing more than just changing words, perhaps. Why not hold herself to a standard of excellence in service delivery?

A quick search of media portrayals of Ailsa Claire reveals that she was instrumental in redundacies and downsizing of services in various NHS trusts in the UK. 35 jobs were lost in redundancies in NHS Barnsley in 2010, for instance. The reason? Cost cutting.. Think about that – she cares about cutting costs when she’s justifying taking away people’s jobs, but doesn’t bat an eye at spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on promoting her corporate rebranding strategy with help from expensive UK based consultants.

A patriotic former employee, known only as Michael, reported that the $95,000 admitted by the DHB consisted of 82,000 of ‘professional fees and expenses’ is an underestimate of the total cost, as does not include the staff time to sit through the ‘values workshops’. A conservative estimate based on a one hour workshop, at an hourly rate of $50, and 5000 employees, inflates the cost by another $250,000.

Perhaps the geniuses at Auckland DHB have started working out that their CEO is a liability; the same search of articles reveals that whilst Ms Claire was given a large bonus in 2014, her pay dropped from around $650,000 to around $620,000 in the 2015/16 fiscal year. From my point of view, this hardly makes up for her greed at the trough, and is still a more princely sum than such ‘leadership’ deserves.

Right Minds NZ is a new alternative media website in New Zealand aiming to counter the leftist media in that nation.