The first one I printed out from the web and scanned it into a PDF file, which is attached. It is titled “New HDC won’t be ‘new broom'”, which is an article from Jodi Yeats, and which was published by ‘NZ Doctor’ magazine on 19 May 2010.
Already then it was clear that there were not going to be any expected major changes or any improvements in the running of that office. Anthony Hill was quoted as saying before starting is job: “Ron [Paterson] has done a first class job and the office is running well”. Anthony Hill worked as Director General for the Ministry of Health, and also in other roles in that ministry, altogether for 15 years. He was also formerly the Ministry’s Chief Legal Advisor, the article says, so one must presume he knows all the networks and systems, many of the senior and not so senior doctors, and is really nothing but an official careerist, who seems to have been hand-picked by a selected panel, to become Commissioner.
It seems a bit like a cat hired to guard the mice, or an employer who suddenly chooses to become a union advocate, or whatever.
He is quoted as also saying: “The quality agenda asks “what happened, rather than who did it””. He furthermore says: “It is about learning and strengthening the system”. He then also refers to the then new Health Quality and Safety Commission.
What the article reports is basically also just about the same, what I have heard from doctors not so long ago, and Anthony Hill’s track record shows it to this date. His office does under his leadership only take firm, decisive disciplinary – or other similar actions – in very few cases, the rest is all about “talking things over” and “improving” the system.
In the article one can read also: “Both the NZMA and RNZCGP have welcomed the appointment and say they look forward to supporting and assisting the new health and disability commissioner”. Here are the very organisations representing the ones to be checked, actually cheering the man on.
So all of us who may expect some proper complaint resolution, where the professionals that made mistakes or committed misconduct, or seriously breached the Code of Ethics, are held accountable, we should not be surprised that not much is done that “harms” any professional. Such a Commission is a sick joke, really!
The other article is rather short, and was a news-item on 1ZB from 24 July this year, where the Minister for Health Tony Ryall is challenged by opposition health spokeswoman Annette King, to do something about the funding issues the Health and Disability Office has. It is titled “Health Minister told cough up for disability”. The HDC Offices are apparently well short of funds, while probably having a high work-load. According to that short article financial deficits can be expected to 2015 if not 2016, should they not be granted extra shortly.
That tells us of course, that they will be working with too few staff trying to cope with increasing work-loads. Naturally, the not so “pressing” complaints will thus be “off-loaded” a.s.a.p., as part of “prioritising”. Of course their legal staff will know all the ins and outs, to use the gaps and convenient provisions in the law, to find reasons to get away with this.
I ask, when is New Zealand ever going to get true standards and quality control for health and disability services? When are we getting a Health and Disability Commission that actually serves the persons worst affected, that is the end users of health and disability services, who get maltreated, neglected, served poorly, or harmed by incompetent or Code breaching doctors and other health professionals?
Answers to the questions will be welcome, Mr Ryall, same as Miss King, once you are at the helm again!