The outgoing Director-General of Health made great contributions to the New Zealand health system while working under extreme pressure, says the chief executive of the nurses’ organisation NZNO.

Memo Musa, head of the New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation, was responding to the early resignation of the Director-General of Health and Ministry of Health chief executive Chai Chuah which was announced yesterday. Musa also applauded the Minister of Clark’s announcement today of a Ministerial Advisory Group but said it would be raising with the Minister next week the need for nurses to also be involved.

Speaking about Chuah’s resignation Musa said he had made great contributions to the health system in a number of senior health management roles, including overseeing the review of the New Zealand Health Strategy as Director General.

“Chai’s stewardship of the health system has been at times managed under extreme pressure but throughout these times we have had a good working relationship with him,” Musa said.

“The health system has been under strain because of the previous government’s decisions to underfund it year after year. DHB chief executives are under huge pressure too and some resigned.”

“They were constantly asked by the last government to cut costs, at the risk of patient and staff safety. This is clearly an unacceptable proposition and this stress has also strained professional relationships at the top level of management and across the health system.”

Musa said it was now important to quickly establish stable leadership at the Ministry so the new Government’s ambitious health programme can be implemented.

He applauded Health Minister David Clarke’s decision to set up an advisory group to take a really good look at the health service.

“…However nurses must be included at this level of decision-making. We will raise this issue with the Minister next week.”

“The issues facing nurses and the nursing profession like safe staffing, new graduate employment, nurse workforce shortages and pay equity will require strategic foresight, courage and determination to resolve,” said Musa. NZNO looked forward to working with the new director general when they were appointed in February.

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