A Serious Fraud Office inquiry into former Waikato District Health Board Chief Executive Nigel Murray’s spending is being welcomed by senior doctors’ union ASMS who believe it should be widened to also look at HealthTap.

The SFO yesterday confirmed it was making preliminary inquiries into the case involving $218,000 of taxpayer money which Murray spent during his three years in the job.

Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) which represents senior doctors and dentists in public hospitals, said the additional SFO scrutiny of the former chief executive’s “disgraceful spend-up on the taxpayer’s coin” was “timely and entirely appropriate”.

“In fact, we’d like to see the scope of the SFO inquiry widened to examine whether there was any possible conflict of interest over the decision to implement the unsuccessful HealthTap/Smart Health system championed by Nigel Murray,” said Powell.

“This system was pushed ahead without being referred to the expertise of Waikato’s senior medical specialists for advice, and it was left to Nigel Murray and the DHB’s Board Chair, Bob Simcock, to decide on implementation.”

Powell said serious questions and concerns remained about Bob Simcock’s oversight of the Chief Executive’s spending, and he called on Health Minister David Clark to replace him.

“Each day Bob Simcock remains as Chair, the credibility of Waikato DHB is further undermined, despite the excellent work of specialists, nurses and other health professionals who are doing their best to provide high quality patient care in a very unsettling environment where their employer’s conduct is worsening damage to the DHB’s reputation.

“While the Minister of Health, Dr David Clark, rightly wants to take a measured approach to the future of DHB Chairs generally, there’s a strong specific case for him to deal swiftly and firmly with the fiasco at Waikato by urgently replacing Bob Simcock as DHB Chair.”

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