By: Amy Wiggins

Interim chief executive Derek Wright today sent an email to all staff informing them he will be leaving Waikato District Health Board at the end of April after a 19-month stint in the role.

He was brought in as the replacement for Dr Nigel Murray, who resigned in October amid an expenses scandal and was tasked with changing the culture, creating a workplace people were proud of, getting Waikato Hospital to the top of its game, and turning around the DHB’s financial problems.

Wright has spent most of his career in health managing broken situations back to repair and set himself a one-year deadline to achieve the transformation.

His resignation will leave the health board without a permanent chief executive.

Last month the Waikato DHB suddenly put a stop to hiring a new chief executive due to “challenges” facing the board.

The health board would not elaborate on what the challenges were but said, “now is not the right time to proceed with the appointment process”.

The board had already spent $73,000 on the process, the Herald reported in February.

Wright’s resignation comes a week after executive director of corporate services Maureen Chrystall left the DHB.

Chrystall was one of three senior staff who raised concerns about former chief executive Dr Nigel Murray’s spending.

Wright today said it was with mixed emotions he made the announcement.

“I’ve very much enjoyed my time in the Waikato and do feel that I’m leaving the DHB in a better place,” he wrote in an email to staff.

“We are about to sign off a 10-year health system plan to give the organisation a purpose for the future, we have increased clinical staffing in a number of services and I have strengthened the executive team with some new appointments. I have tried to improve communication and engagement both with you, our staff, and with our community.

“I believe that morale has improved and when I talk to new employees joining the organisation at our regular orientation sessions I am always heartened by the numbers of people who are returning to the DHB.

“I hope I have prepared the organisation to move into the future with a permanent chief executive and now it is time for me to move on.”

Wright said his last day would be April 26 but board chairwoman Sally Webb would make an announcement about interim cover for his position next week.

Source: NZ Herald


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